RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The New York Rangers' newfound attention to details in paying off with a string of wins.
Brandon Dubinsky and Sean Avery scored first-period goals to lift the Rangers to a 4-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, New York's third straight victory and sixth in eight games (6-0-2).
"We really don't have a choice right now," said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 26 saves. "It's so tight in the standings. Focus is important for us. We're really playing our system.
"We're playing well as a team, that's why we we're winning. We're scoring when we get the opportunities. It's very good for us."
The Rangers, who had not played since Sunday, looked refreshed and used that to their advantage, taking an early 10-2 shot advantage. New York kept the Hurricanes off balance by controlling the puck.
"We're being smarter," forward Brendan Shanahan said. "It was a lack of focus we had in the middle of the season. We're doing those little things right, not taking penalties, a lot of that is good line changes and being good with your stick."
New York coach Tom Renney was also pleased with the effort by the Rangers, the seventh-place team in the Eastern Conference.
"We played a good road game," Renney said. "We certainly didn't want to give them any opportunity to get momentum, get a lead get the crowd behind them, anything like that. We did our job that way."
Chris Drury pushed the Rangers' lead to 3-0 in the second period, and Shanahan closed the scoring in the third after the Hurricanes got within a goal.
"For whatever reason, it seemed like the puck was bouncing and it just wasn't clicking," goalie Cam Ward said. "It wasn't going our way, and because of that we got ourselves in a lot of trouble."
Erik Cole scored twice for Carolina, including once on the power play.
Dubinsky struck 3:50 in when he took a centering pass from Jaromir Jagr in the slot and beat Ward with a backhand flip just inside the right post.
Avery scored on a low slap shot from the right wing that sneaked under Ward's pads with 44 seconds left in the first period. New York defenseman Dan Girardi intercepted a weak pass in the Carolina zone and got the puck to a wide-open Avery, who scored his third goal in five games.
The Rangers went up 3-0 early in the second when Drury outbattled Carolina defenseman Frank Kaberle for a puck in the slot and scored. Ward stopped an initial slap shot, but the puck landed at Kaberle's feet. Drury scooped it up and put it in.
"We did give it away in the first period," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "We weren't particularly sharp. They played a good defensive game. We talked about a lot of things that we need to do, but didn't seem to execute very well."
Carolina got on the board at 7:39 of the second when Cole sent a slap shot from the left wing that deflected off the stick of Girardi and past Lundqvist to make it 3-1.
Cole brought the Hurricanes within a goal early in the third when he converted on the back end of a high-sticking double minor to Marc Staal. Cole was the recipient of Staal's high stick and went to the dressing room for treatment, but he was back in time to score.
Shanahan restored New York's two-goal lead with 12:48 left when he tallied from the right wing.
"It was a perfect pass through the slot to me," Shanahan said of Nigel Dawes' assist. "I was able to stop it and release it in one stride and put it where I wanted to."
Ward finished with 24 saves for Carolina.
Notes: The Hurricanes were 1-for-6 on the power play. New York went 0-of-3. ... The Hurricanes, who had their three-game winning streak snapped, maintained a five-point lead in the Southeast Division over idle Washington. The Capitals have played three fewer games. ... It was the second time in nine games Carolina failed to earn a point (6-2-1).