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Improving Rangers host struggling Hurricanes

by Kurt Dusterberg

HURRICANES (4-6-3) at RANGERS (5-6-0)


Last 10: Carolina 3-5-2; New York 4-6-0

Season series: This is the first of five games this season between the teams. The New York Rangers won all three meetings last season, but the Carolina Hurricanes earned points in an overtime loss and a shootout loss.

Big story: The Rangers are starting to warm up after a cold start; they beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 on Thursday for their third win in four games. Henrik Lundqvist earned his third win of the season, and his second shutout. New York is tied with Philadelphia for the fewest goals scored with 20. The Hurricanes have lost four straight, including a 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes: Goals are at a premium for Carolina as well. Eric Staal and Jordan Staal have combined to score four goals through 13 games. During the four-game losing skid, the Hurricanes have been outscored 13-4.

"I think we just need to approach it one game at a time," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said after the loss to Tampa Bay. "Scoring opportunities were there, but we didn't score. If we can just get better in each area, that probably makes the difference in winning the game."

Rangers: New York has won back-to-back games, beating the New York Islanders 3-2 before blanking the Sabres. Chris Kreider scored in each game, his first two goals of the season.

The Rangers are still struggling to put the puck in the net -- they are tied with the Philadelphia Flyers for the fewest goals in the League (20). But coach Alain Vigneault said he's a lot happier with what he's seeing. The Rangers are coming off a season-high 46 shots on goal against Buffalo.

"Because we're being real sound in certain areas of the ice, it's enabled us to counter real quickly and get some quality chances," Vigneault told the media Friday. "We're not finishing the way I'd like to, but we're doing the little things and it's just a matter of us getting a little confidence and a little bounce and we'll be all right."

Who's hot: Hurricanes forward Alexander Semin has five points in his last five games. Defenseman Andrej Sekera has three points in his last four games. … Kreider has matched his goal production for all of last season. Center Derek Stepan and defenseman Ryan McDonagh each have two points in the past two games. Lundqvist has allowed two goals in two games since returning from an undisclosed injury.

Injury report: The Hurricanes remain without goaltenders Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin, both out with lower-body injuries. Leading scorer Jeff Skinner is sidelined with an upper-body injury; he and forward Radek Dvorak (lower body) are on injured reserve. … Rangers captain Ryan Callahan remains out after breaking his left thumb blocking a shot Oct. 16 in Washington. Forward Rick Nash is still sidelined after suffering a concussion on Oct. 8. Center Dominic Moore is out with a strained oblique muscle.

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