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Rangers make it five in a row with win vs. Hurricanes

by Kurt Dusterberg

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Over the course of a season, there are a handful of games when a team does enough to earn a win, but it doesn't get the result.

The New York Rangers almost had one of those games.

But Kevin Klein scored late in the third period and Mats Zuccarello had the only goal in the shootout to lift New York to a 3-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Saturday.

The Rangers (16-10-4) controlled long stretches of the game, outshooting the Hurricanes 34-20 to earn their fifth win in a row.

"We had the puck a lot and we were skating well, so it was a matter of time before we got a couple, and we ended up doing that," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said.

If not for strong play by Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward (32 saves), the Rangers could have opened an early lead. Ward made tough saves on shots by Zuccarello, Carl Hagelin, Matt Hunwick and Chris Kreider.

But Carolina (9-19-4) emerged with a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes thanks to a Rangers miscue. From the low right circle, Kevin Hayes sent a diagonal pass to a vacated right point and out of the offensive zone. Nathan Gerbe gathered the loose puck and fed Chris Terry on a 2-on-1 for a goal at 7:20.

The Rangers continued to play a strong possession game through the second period, but had nothing to show for it. New York's penalty kill was even dominant; the Hurricanes had 5:06 of power play time through two periods but failed to record a shot.

The Rangers' persistence paid off when they tied the game at 4:01 of the third period. On the power play, Zuccarello threaded a pass to J.T. Miller in the neutral zone before Miller scored via the forehand on a short breakaway at 4:01.

"Zuc made the whole thing happen," said Miller, who scored his fourth goal in 11 games. "I just kind of skated to an area. I tried to give [Ward] a fake and I think he tried to poke check, so it kind of helped my decision."

Carolina needed 26 seconds to regain the lead on Jeff Skinner's eighth goal of the season. Elias Lindholm moved the puck ahead to Skinner, who beat Ryan McDonagh down the right wing and scored on a backhand shot that slipped under Henrik Lundqvist.

"It was a bad mistake by me," said Lundqvist, who made 18 saves. "I tried to read his shot instead of just play the situation. When they're on a backhand on an angle, you should not try to read to shot, you should just try to be solid. It could have cost us."

But the Rangers found a way. Klein sent the game to overtime when he scored on a wrist shot from the left point with 2:23 remaining in regulation.

"I think the resilience of our team showed, not to let up," Klein said. "We just turned to each other and said, 'Let's keep going.' I thought we did a great job of that. And [Lundqvist] has bailed us out every game and every day. To get that back for him, and he did a great job in the shootout too, so that was nice."

After Zuccarello scored on Ward to start the shootout, Lundqvist was perfect, stopping Skinner, Gerbe and Terry to earn his 50th career shootout win. He picked off Terry's backhand with a glove save to finish it.

"I felt like Skinner had a good shot. It touched my glove a little bit," Lundqvist said. "The last one, I felt like my timing was good. It was a good move, but I got a good push there and I was able to come across and make the save."

Coach Alain Vigneault echoed the sentiment that the Rangers earned two points, despite nearly settling for less.

"I thought we played a real strong game," Vigneault said. "We came out with good pace and execution. We couldn't make them pay for a couple of their mistakes, but we made one and they made us pay. They got a goal that [Lundqvist] would like to have back, but he made up for it in the shootout."

The Hurricanes were trying to build off a 4-1 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday that snapped a six-game losing streak. But the loss to the Rangers left Carolina coach Bill Peters disappointed.

"I don't know if we ever got started," Peters said. "I don't think we ever got going, period. I thought we got outskated for 60 minutes. We didn't have the puck. I didn't think we were dangerous. We didn't make many plays, so you're just holding on and that's not the way we want to play."

The Hurricanes and Rangers conclude their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

"We want to get off to a better start than we did today," Skinner said. "It's too good of a league to be spotting teams 15 minutes before we get going. We've got to clean up some things in the [defensive] zone so [Ward] doesn't have to bail us out."

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