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Rangers-Hurricanes Preview

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Defense seems to be a problem for the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes.

After giving up a season-high in goals in their last game, the Hurricanes complete their longest homestand so far this season Wednesday when the New York Rangers visit the RBC Center.

Carolina was 3-1-0 last season against New York, winning both games in Raleigh.

The Hurricanes spotted the Buffalo Sabres a 3-0 first-period lead Monday before Justin Williams, Ray Whitney and Rod Brind'Amour each scored their seventh goal of the season. Carolina goaltender Cam Ward, though, allowed three goals in 6:02 span midway through the third period en route to a 7-4 loss.

The Hurricanes (9-7-3) have lost all five games in which it has given up at least five goals. They also have allowed 63 goals this season - only Phoenix (66) and Philadelphia (67) have allowed more.

"We came back and got to our game and really started playing well," said Brind'Amour, who has three goals and four assists in a five-game points streak. "Then we tied it up and gave them two goals. You can't do that against good teams. You have to make them earn it."

Whitney has four goals and four assists in a five-game streak, and Williams has scored goals in consecutive games after tallying just five in his first 17.

Carolina is 2-1 entering the final game of its four-game homestand.

New York (10-7-1) moved into a tie with New Jersey atop the Atlantic Division after rallying for a 3-2 win Monday over the Devils. Trailing 2-0 early in the third period - and following an in-between period rant by coach Tom Renney - the Rangers struck for three goals in a 90-second span.

"There comes a time as a coach where you've got to conjure up the proper emotion to go out there and tackle the task at hand," Renney said. "We weren't being proactive with respect to putting them on their heels. We proposed that they may want to do that."

Jaromir Jagr scored two goals 26 seconds apart for his first multigoal game this season. He had 11 such efforts in 2005-06 en route to a Rangers' single-season record 54 goals.

"Everyone knew we didn't play well," Jagr said of the first two periods. "Speeches are useless unless you go out and do it."

A five-time Art Ross Trophy winner as the league's leading scorer, the 34-year-old Jagr also needs just two goals to become the 16th player with 600 for his career.

Just 1:04 later, Brendan Shanahan added his 14th goal, tying him with Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk for second in NHL. The Thrashers' Marian Hossa leads the league with 15.

This game also marks the return of Rangers center Matt Cullen and defenseman Aaron Ward to Carolina.

Cullen set career highs with 25 goals and 49 points during his only season with Carolina in 2005-06. He signed a four-year, $11.2 million deal with New York in July, and has just four goals and 10 points in 18 games so far.

Ward also set career highs last season with six goals and 19 assists and scored Carolina's first goal in its Stanley Cup-clinching win over Edmonton. He left after four seasons with the Hurricanes for a two-year, $5.5 million deal with New York.

Ward is second on the team in scoring among defensemen with eight points.

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