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Rangers aim for season sweep of Hurricanes

by Dave Lozo
HURRICANES (26-28-15) at RANGERS (43-18-7)


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

Season Series:
This is the fourth and final meeting of the season. The Rangers have won the three matchups in regulation by a combined 13-6 score.

Big Story:
With the 13th-place Hurricanes needing a miracle to reach the playoffs, it's all about whether the stumbling Rangers get it together before the hard-charging Penguins come to town Thursday. The Rangers snapped a three-game slide Sunday, but it wasn't exactly pretty in a 4-3 win against the 14th-place Islanders. The Rangers need the points, sure, but they need to start playing better with the playoffs right around the corner.

Team Scope:

On the surface, nine points back with 13 games to play doesn't look too bad. But 90 points appears to be the number for getting that No. 8 spot in the East, and the Hurricanes need to finish 11-1-1 to get to 90 points.

A 2-0 loss to the Panthers on Sunday didn't help that cause, but at least one Hurricane isn't ready to start focusing on next season.

"We're running out of games," center Brandon Sutter said. "We've just got to start winning. We've been getting a lot of points the last month. We're climbing back. We have to start putting a few together to give ourselves a chance."

A three-game losing streak nearly became a season-high four-game slump, but the Rangers avoided disaster Sunday.

Entering the third down a goal, Brian Boyle tied it 3:29 into the period and Marian Gaborik won it with 5.8 seconds left in overtime to give the Rangers a 4-3 victory.

"The thing I like most about it is the way we won," coach John Tortorella said. "You don't want to draw it up that way, but the things that we're going through as a team -- even through this game with some of the bounces -- just to keep a hold of ourselves and stay with it. We needed every last second to finally win the game."

Who's Hot:
The Rangers' Brad Richards, who scored twice against the Isles, has 3 goals and 7 assists in his last nine games.

Injury Report:
Carolina forward Jiri Tlusty missed Sunday's game vs. Florida after leaving Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury. … Rangers captain Ryan Callahan (foot) and defenseman Michael Del Zotto (undisclosed, likely hip) both missed the game against the Islanders. Their status for Carolina is unknown as of this time.

Stat Pack:
The Rangers' penalty kill has held opponents scoreless in five of the last six games (17-for-18, 94.4 percent), and is 22-for-24 (91.7 percent) in the last eight contests.

Puck Drop:
"Who knows what our mindset would have been today if we felt that one got away from us.” -- Brandon Dubinsky, to Andrew Gross of The (Bergen) Record, on nearly losing to the Islanders

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