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game recap

Miller helps Rangers continue dominance of Hurricanes

by Kurt Dusterberg / Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. -- J.T. Miller scored two second-period goals, and the New York Rangers' forecheck forced the Carolina Hurricanes into numerous turnovers in a 4-1 win at PNC Arena on Friday.

"The energy, the speed; we look so fast," said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who made 30 saves. "We look like the team we were in October. The timing is there, the confidence is building. We're playing really good hockey.

That late-October version of the Rangers put together a nine-game winning streak but has struggled to find consistency in recent weeks. By winning their second straight, the Rangers (26-16-5) have won back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 21 and 23 against the Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers.

New York continued its mastery of Carolina; the Rangers are 19-1-0 against the Hurricanes since Feb. 22, 2011.

The Rangers came out strong against the Hurricanes (21-20-8), who were playing the second half of a back-to-back set that began with a 1-0 overtime win at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

Ryan McDonagh's sixth goal of the season gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 14:01 of the first period. The defenseman intercepted a pass from John-Michael Liles in the neutral zone and skated to the top of the left circle before beating Eddie Lack over his blocker.

The Rangers made it 2-0 when Oscar Lindberg found Keith Yandle alone in the slot at 17:53. Kevin Hayes started the play by taking the puck away from Noah Hanifin, then stickhandling past two more defenders. He passed to Lindberg, who set up Yandle for his third of the season and first against the Hurricanes in 13 games.

"There was a turnover and I tried to hound on Noah [Hanifin]," Hayes said. "Luckily I lifted his stick and held on to the puck, gave it to Lindberg and he made a great play."

Hayes' solo effort was just part of what New York coach Alain Vigneault liked about the play of his 23-year-old forward.

"I really liked Hayes' game tonight," Vigneault said. "He was really strong on the puck, he made some good plays, protected it well with his body. The last few games, he's playing the way we think he can play."

Carolina's Joakim Nordstrom made it 2-1 with a one-timer from the slot at 3:29 of the second period. Andrej Nestrasil won a puck battle behind the net then fed a backhand to Nordstrom for a hard shot over Lundqvist's glove.

But the Rangers answered with two goals off turnovers.

Derek Stepan forced Justin Faulk into one behind the goal line, freeing the puck for Miller, who scored over Lack's shoulder at 9:41.

Miller scored again a little more than two minutes later when he stripped the puck from defenseman Jaccob Slavin in the Carolina zone before deking to his forehand and beating Lack for his 12th of the season.

"He mishandled it, and it gave me a little extra second to get a stick on it," Miller said. "Luckily I was able to win that puck over and make a nice move."

Hurricanes coach Bill Peters thought his team's lack of poise with the puck was the difference in the game.

"They got two unassisted goals on the night and one dumped in right behind us and we turn it over and it's in the net," Peters said. "They were quicker on the forecheck. They established their game early and got the lead and played with the lead all night."

The Hurricanes made a bit of a push in the third period, outshooting the Rangers 12-1. Lundqvist made his best save when he stopped Jeff Skinner's wrist shot from point-blank range.

"I thought for sure he was going to deflect the puck, so I just tried to be very solid there," Lundqvist said. "Then he goes to my right. I'm a little late, so I just tried to get a blocker on it and it worked."

Moments later, Lundqvist stopped Eric Staal from close-in during Carolina's only power play, but by then the goaltender's 22nd win was all but assured.

"I felt like I was in control tonight," Lundqvist said. "The last seven or eight games, I feel like I'm playing my game. That gives me a lot of confidence, knowing I'm doing the right things. It's going to give me an opportunity to have more good games, more consistently."

In addition to their overall dominance of Carolina, the Rangers have won 11 of their past 13 in Raleigh, a fact that doesn't sit well with the Hurricanes' captain.

"We know what our record is against them over the last while," Staal said. 'We want to rectify it now, but it's been frustrating. You can't make mistakes like that, and they made us pay."

Forward Daniel Paille, signed by New York as a free agent Thursday, played 15:15 in his Rangers debut.

Rangers forward Rick Nash left the game briefly in the third period after hitting the boards.

Carolina forward Riley Nash became ill before the game and was a late scratch.

Each team plays Sunday. The Rangers are at the Ottawa Senators; the Hurricanes host the Calgary Flames.

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