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Rangers hang on to defeat Hurricanes, end skid

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers ended their losing streak at three games by rediscovering their opportunistic offense in a 4-3 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on Monday.

Forwards Mats Zuccarello, Oscar Lindberg, Chris Kreider and Derick Brassard scored for New York, and goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 33 saves for his 13th win in his 20th start.

Zuccarello and Lindberg each scored on the power play; it was the first time this season that the Rangers have scored two power-play goals in a game. They are 6-for-20 on the power play in their past six games.

Next up for the Rangers (17-6-2) is their first game against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Wednesday.

"Funny things happen to a team when you start losing, especially three in a row," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "You start regressing and getting down on yourselves. But I thought we at least came in excited to play, to get back at it, trying to get that win. It's nice to stop it at three. We know we have to be better still and we'll keep working at it."

Carolina goalie Cam Ward made 18 saves. His giveaway led to Brassard's goal at 15:49 of the second period, which wound up as the game-winner.

Forwards Jordan Staal, Victor Rask and Chris Terry scored for the Hurricanes (8-12-4), who have lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since Nov. 1-6. They are 3-6-4 since winning three in a row to close the month of October.

"At this point, it's frustrating," Hurricanes captain Eric Staal said. "Obviously, we need to get wins. We need points. We are finding ways to let them slip away. There's areas we need to improve, and you need to put it all together at the same time."

The Rangers don't have to look hard for areas they need to be better. They were outshot (36-22) for the third straight game and for the 16th time in 25 games this season. They were at times careless with the puck, putting it into the middle of the neutral zone, directly into the Hurricanes forecheck, as they tried to break out of their defensive zone.

Carolina had some odd-man rushes, and Terry got behind defenseman Ryan McDonagh for a breakaway goal at 8:23 of the third period to slice the New York lead to 4-3. It came at a time when the Rangers should have been protecting their zone and not letting anyone get behind them.

"We know that there are still things we are continuing to work on," McDonagh said. "Hopefully, this win here gives some guys a bit of a boost."

The Rangers won in part because Ward had a tough night. He allowed a goal by Kreider at 2:24 of the second period off a shot from below the right circle near the corner that made it 3-1.

Kreider's goal came 44 seconds after Jordan Staal scored his fifth of the season to make it 2-1. New York had a 2-0 lead after the first period on the power-play goals from Zuccarello and Lindberg.

Ward was so frustrated after allowing Kreider's goal that he slammed his stick across the right post, breaking it in half.

It didn't help that his giveaway led to Brassard's game-winning goal.

Ward tried to clear the puck up the left side, but Rangers center Kevin Hayes, coming out of the penalty box at the time, intercepted the puck and gave it to Brassard for a one-timer from the right circle. Ward was out of his crease and had no chance to stop Brassard's shot.

"He'd like to have a couple of those back, I'm sure, but that's part of it," Marc Staal said. "When we make him pay on that, that's a big thing."

The Rangers have been opportunistic for the majority of the season. It's a big reason why they have 17 wins through 25 games despite getting outshot so often.

They're seventh in the League in scoring (2.92 goals per game) even though they're 26th in shots on goal per game (27.7). They are first in goals-against per game (2.08) even though they're 28th in shots against per game (31.8).

"When we've had good opportunities to score goals we've been able to finish it pretty consistently," Marc Staal said. "Three or four goals a game is usually enough to win, and we've been doing that pretty consistently, so it's good to get back on the board like that."

The Rangers, though, might have lost another key player to an injury in the process. They had to play the final 53:29 with five defensemen because Kevin Klein was forced out of the game with a muscle strain in his abdomen.

Klein is expected to be re-evaluated Tuesday, coach Alain Vigneault said.

Defenseman Dan Boyle, a healthy scratch for the past two games, had the chance to play more because of Klein's injury. He had an assist on Lindberg's power-play goal and a plus-2 rating in a season-high 23:19 of ice time.

Boyle also played a role in Zuccarello's goal by helping Brassard win the faceoff back to Zuccarello for a one-timer.

Vigneault mentioned the power play as a reason why Boyle was back in the lineup.

"I thought he was real good," Vigneault said of Boyle.

Nobody in the Rangers dressing room was saying that about their team game as a whole Monday. But they were opportunistic and they got a win to end a losing streak.

"We will take the two points and get ready for a big game against our rivals," Vigneault said.

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