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Rangers-Hurricanes Preview

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Rangers-Hurricanes Preview

GAME: New York Rangers (11-6-3) at Carolina Hurricanes (13-3-1).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.

The New York Rangers have had a very good road trip thus far. Ending it with a win over one of the NHL's top clubs would make it extra special.

The Rangers look to make it four wins in five games on the trip when they meet the first-place Carolina Hurricanes in the opener of a home-and-home series.

New York began its trip with wins over Florida, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh before losing 2-1 at Toronto on Tuesday.

Bryan McCabe scored two power-play goals for the Leafs, who ended the Rangers' five-game road winning streak.

Despite the loss, the Rangers again received a strong performance from their goaltender as Kevin Weekes stopped 22 of 24 shots. Weekes has allowed three goals or fewer in five straight starts while rookie Henrik Lundqvist has also been solid with a 1.88 goals-against average.

"The biggest thing now for us is the goaltending," Rangers center Steve Rucchin said. "They've been giving us a chance to win every game."

The Rangers haven't allowed more than three goals in any of their seven games in November.

Jaromir Jagr scored New York's only goal against Toronto, his league-best 18th of the season after he had a had trick in a 6-1 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday. Jagr has 13 goals and 18 points in 11 road games this season.

Rucchin has three goals and two assists during the current trip, and Martin Straka has a goal and four assists.

Carolina had a franchise-record nine-game winning streak snapped Saturday with a 9-0 loss to Atlanta, but rebounded with a 2-1 victory at Ottawa on Tuesday. It marked the Hurricanes' second win of the season over the Senators, who have lost just three times all year.

Goaltender Martin Gerber stopped 35 shots for the Hurricanes, who have won seven of eight at home.

"He was awesome for us," Carolina center Eric Staal said of Gerber.

Staal continues to be one of the league's most productive players. He already has 12 goals and 29 points in 17 games after he had 11 goals and 31 points in 81 contests as a rookie in 2003-04.

These teams meet at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 16): Rangers - 25 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division. Hurricanes - 27 points, 1st place, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Rangers - Jagr, 18 goals and 29 points; Straka, 18 assists; Darius Kasparaitis, 32 PIM. Hurricanes - Staal, 12 goals, 17 assists and 29 points; Jesse Boulerice, 40 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 16): Rangers - Power play: 17.7 percent (22 for 124), 15th in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.4 percent (118 for 135), 2nd. Hurricanes - Power play: 19.8 percent (22 for 111), 8th. Penalty killing: 81.3 percent (83 for 102), 19th.

GOALTENDERS: Rangers - Lundqvist (7-2-2, 1 SO, 1.88 GAA); Weekes (4-4-1, 2.76). Hurricanes - Gerber (8-2-0, 2, 2.04); Cam Ward (5-1-1, 3.60).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Hurricanes, 2-1-1-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 8, 2004; Hurricanes, 3-2. At Raleigh, N.C, The Hurricanes scored three times in the second period.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 6-4-1 on the road; Hurricanes - 7-1-0 at home.


Associated Press

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