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Rangers go for home-and-home sweep of 'Canes

by Dave Lozo

HURRICANES (10-23-7) at RANGERS (19-17-4)

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

Season series --
This afternoon's game is the second half of a home-and-home series and the third meeting of the year between the teams. The Rangers have won the first two games -- both in Carolina -- by scores of 3-1 on Dec. 21 and 2-1 on Thursday.

Big story --
Carolina is by far the worst road team in the NHL, posting just two victories in 19 contests. On the flip side, the Rangers are just 8-10-2 at Madison Square Garden and have just one win in their last eight home games.

Team scope:

Hurricanes --
Thursday's loss to the Rangers was just the latest frustrating game this season for the Hurricanes, whose 27 points rank last in the League and are nine in back of the next-closest team in the overall standings. However, before Thursday's loss they earned a convincing 6-3 road victory against the Washington Capitals, one of the League's best teams.

"It's disappointing, especially coming off a big game in Washington," Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward said of Thursday's loss. "We had great puck pursuit in Washington and attacked Washington really well. We didn't have that jump for whatever reason."

Rangers -- They rebounded nicely with the win in Carolina after delivering an absolute stinker in a 6-0 loss at home to Philadelphia Flyers the previous night. Coach John Tortorella preached the importance of not letting that loss snowball into another losing streak.

"It's obvious we competed harder," he said after Thursday's win. "It was important not to lose two in a row, and I thought we answered well in all aspects of the game."

It was a nice bounce-back game for Brandon Dubinsky, who was a minus-4 against the Flyers, and Henrik Lundqvist, who allowed three goals in that game and was pulled after the first period. Dubinsky scored the winner in the third period against the Hurricanes while Lundqvist stopped 17 of 18 shots.

Who's hot --
For Carolina, Eric Staal has been red-hot in his last three games, contributing 2 goals and 6 assists over that span. … Even with that minus-4 performance against the Flyers, Dubinsky has been great lately for the Rangers. In his last five games, he has 4 goals and 2 assists and is still a plus-2.

Injury report --
Injuries have been a problem all year for the Hurricanes, who will be without left wing Erik Cole (upper body), defenseman Joe Corvo (leg), right wing Chad LaRose (lower body), left wing Sergei Samsonov (upper body) and right wing Scott Walker (upper body). … For the Rangers, second-leading scorer Vinny Prospal is out with a knee injury.

Stat pack -- Lundqvist has won four of his last five home starts against the Hurricanes, allowing only nine goals. ... Ward is 1-3-1 with a 2.54 GAA in six career road games against the Rangers. ... Carolina has lost five of six at MSG.

Puck drop --
To hear Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice tell it, he wasn't all that impressed with the Rangers' effort Thursday night in Raleigh. "I don't think the Rangers played a real tough game. There wasn't a lot of momentum to be had in the game either way. It was a slug from one end to the other."

When you're nine points out of 29th in the League, perhaps giving a team that just beat you bulletin-board material isn't the best idea.

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