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Rangers top Hurricanes to snap three-game skid

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- Two points and still plenty of questions to answer and adjustments to make. The New York Rangers will take it and move on to a day off Friday.

The Rangers avoided their fourth straight loss by coming back to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in a shootout Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

Derick Brassard tied the game at 9:40 of the third period, and Rick Nash scored the shootout winner. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who allowed six goals in each of the past two games, made 29 saves in regulation and overtime before stopping three shots in the shootout to help the Rangers snap their three-game losing streak.

"You never critique a win," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Right now a win is a win and two points is two points. Our goalie stepped up at the right time, stepped up in the shootout. Our best scorer scored in the shootout. We've gotta find ways to win, get two points, and that's what we did tonight."

New York allowed 17 goals in its previous three games, all losses. It was looking like another loss Thursday until Brassard scored on a double deflection to tie the game.

The Rangers picked up the extra point when Nash beat Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin with a forehanded shot on the stick side in the third round of the shootout. Nash was the only shooter to score in the shootout.

"We didn't let six goals in our net, so that's an improvement," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "We were better in our end. We didn't give up as many quality chances in the middle of the ice, so we were better that way. We won a game. We got two points."

But New York's power play fell to 0-for-16 on the season by going 0-for-5 with five shots on goal. The Hurricanes also dominated the Rangers in the faceoff circle, winning 44 of 67 faceoffs (66 percent).

Carolina couldn't take advantage and lost its fourth game in a row to start the season. The Hurricanes (0-3-1) remain one of four teams without a win this season; the others are the Florida Panthers, Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers.

Carolina, though, played without six regulars Thursday: forwards Eric Staal (upper body), Jordan Staal (leg), Jeff Skinner (concussion) and Patrick Dwyer (groin) as well as defensemen Andrej Sekera (upper body) and John-Michael Liles (upper body).

Skinner and Sekera are considered day-to-day and could return for the Hurricanes’ game Tuesday at the Winnipeg Jets, the first of four straight road games against the Canadian teams in the Western Conference.

"You look at our games we've lost, three one-goal games in a row now and two of them in shootouts," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "Obviously we will continue to work on the shootout, offensively, that end of it. We need to find a way to get the power play going a little bit. It's been hard with the lack of continuity amongst the personnel, but we've got a little bit of time before we play again so we can spend some time on it. I expect to be real good when we go out West."

The good news for Carolina is Khudobin made 33 saves and two more in the shootout, perhaps giving himself an advantage in the race to be the Hurricanes' No. 1 goalie this season.

Prior to the game, Peters said he was continuing to evaluate the goaltending position, but he was hopeful either Khudobin or Cam Ward would emerge as the No. 1.

Khudobin allowed four goals in his previous start this season, a 4-3 loss to the New York Islanders, but Ward hasn't grabbed the No. 1 spot either with a 0-1-1 record, 3.87 goals-against average and .846 save percentage.

"He was solid," Peters said of Khudobin. "We talked about winning a 2-1 game, and it was available for us. Obviously we fell one goal short in regulation and then in overtime, but Anton played real well."

Lundqvist said the key for the Rangers was they never lost their composure or their structure -- two of their bigger issues in their previous three games.

"We needed to feel like we can play a solid 60-minute game," Lundqvist said. "It was important for us to come back to our structure. It helps me a lot to focus on what I have to do. I felt like we were on the same page. … It paid off in the end. We didn't take chances in the third even though we were behind one goal. We kept playing smart and it did pay off."

Forward Chris Terry gave the Carolina a 1-0 lead with 3:07 remaining in the second period on a shot that deflected into the net off of New York defenseman Kevin Klein, but the Rangers felt good about how they played in the second and better about how they responded in the third and overtime.

They outshot the Hurricanes 26-17 in the final 45 minutes, including 12-5 in the second period. Carolina had 19 shot attempts in the first period; they had 28 in the second, third and overtime.

Brassard's third goal of the season gave the Rangers a chance at the win. It was a double deflection goal on which Brassard got his stick down to redirect defenseman Dan Girardi's shot from the right point after it was initially tipped by forward Mats Zuccarello.

Khudobin stopped the first 28 shots he faced.

"We can still learn from [the game Thursday] and build off of it because there were still moments where we were chasing a bit," Staal said. "But we were better."


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