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Rangers Road Trip Heads to Carolina

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Rangers look to remain perfect on their four-game road trip Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh. 

New York is coming off a 5-2 win Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers that saw Henrik Lundqvist make 43 saves on his way to passing Grant Fuhr for 10th place in NHL history in wins. Tanner Glass scored a goal and added an assist, while four other Blueshirts scored goals.

Lundqvist, though, will miss Thursday's match against the Hurricanes as he's day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Goaltender Brandon Halverson has been recalled from Greenville (ECHL) on an emergency basis.

With Lundqvist out, Antti Raanta will get the start for the Blueshirts. He's never faced the Hurricanes in his career.

Rick Nash is also day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Matt Puempel will get back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch the last two games.

Thursday marks the fourth and final meeting between these Metropolitan Division foes. The Rangers are 2-1-0 against Carolina this season, with the only loss coming in Raleigh. The Rangers defeated Carolina 4-2 in the most recent meetingback on Dec. 3 at Madison Square Garden. Mats Zuccarello leads all skaters with four points in the three games, while Derek Stepan has a goal and two assists.

The Rangers enter Thursday on a five-game road winning streak, during which they've outscored their opponents 14-7. They're 9-1 in their last 10 games away from The Garden, and they lead the NHL in road wins with 24. 

Carolina's playoff hopes took a hit over the last several games with the team going 2-5-3 in their last 10 entering Thursday's match. The Hurricanes are coming off a 3-1 loss against Colorado Tuesday.

The Hurricanes have struggled to score goals this season with just 156 in 63 games, which is the second-fewest in the Eastern Conference. Jeff Skinner leads the team in goals with 20 and points with 42, while youngsters Victor Rask and Sebastian Aho have posted 37 and 35 points, respectively. 

Defenseman Justin Fault leads all Hurricanes blueliners with 12 goals 26 points through 56 contests.

That lack of goal scoring has negated a strong defensive effort this season for the Hurricanes, who have allowed just 183 goals this season, which is 10th in the conference but just nine behind 5th.

No. 1 netminder Cam Ward has struggled during this recent stretch, going winless in his last six starts (0-4-2). He's 21-20-8 with a 2.65 GAA and a .904 SV% with two shutouts this season.

One area Carolina has excelled in this season is on the penalty kill. The Hurricanes' 85.1 percent penalty kill is third-best in the NHL. 

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