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Rangers' Lundqvist keeps Hurricanes reeling at home

The SportsXchange

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Henrik Lundqvist was talking but wasn't quite sure if he was making sense following back-to-back games in which he faced the NHL's best offense and then 49 shots Saturday night.

"There was definitely a lot of action," the New York goalie said following a 4-1 victory by the Rangers over the reeling Carolina Hurricanes, gulping a bottle of water faster than he was talking. "It was a fun game, but ... they had so many scoring chances. I'm just so tired I don't know what to say now ... and I don't know what I'm saying. Yeah, short answers tonight."

Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan scored 31 seconds apart in the second period and Lundqvist allowed two or fewer goals for the 10th straight game as the Rangers rebounded from a 2-1 shootout loss in Pittsburgh 24 hours earlier to secure three of a possible four points on the road this weekend.

New York broke open the game after a scoreless first period with three second-period goals to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff chase with 10 games remaining, but offense wasn't the story on this night, it was Lundqvist's glove, pads and desire.

"The key for me was I was patient, I was waiting for the shots," said Lundqvist, who lowered his goals against average to 2.07. "And as the game moved on I gained some confidence too that I could stay deep and play my game and just wait for the puck."

Lundqvist lost his shutout bid with 10:33 left on a goal by Zac Dalpe, who was recalled from the minors earlier in the day, but was spectacular, especially in the third period as the desperate Hurricanes pounded the New York net with 21 shots.

"That's the best I've seen him play since I've been here," said Rangers coach John Tortorella. "He certainly finds a way to get us a win tonight. His competitiveness is one of the endearing traits about him. I've never seen anybody prepare like he does and compete as hard as he does all the time. He stole us one."

Added Rick Nash: "He kept us in the game early, and then late. Once again he was the backbone of our team and our best player."

The Hurricanes dropped their seventh straight at PNC Arena to match the longest home losing streak in franchise history. Carolina was leading the Southeast Division on March 12 with a 15-9-1 record, but has dropped 11 of 12 and been outscored 29-9 during its record-tying skid.

Three Carolina players went after Brad Richards in the corner two minutes into the second period with the Rangers on the power play. As the players converged, Richards quickly found a wide-open Stepan in the slot and he beat Dan Ellis for his 13th goal of the season.

Callahan scored on New York's next shift as Ellis and Joe Corvo misplayed the puck behind the Carolina net. The puck squirted free in front to the New York captain, who just had to tap it into a wide-open net for his 11th goal of the season.

Nash capped the stellar period for the Rangers when he faked a backhander in the slot and wheeled around on his forehand to surprise Ellis. It was the second power-play goal for the Rangers, marking just the third time this season and first on the road New York has scored at least two goals with the man advantage.

"We're getting shot to the net and we're hunting down pucks and our power-play seems to be clicking now," Nash said.

Poor second periods have done Carolina in at home this week. The Hurricanes allowed four goals against Washington and three each to Tampa Bay and the Rangers.

"I know I sound like a broken record," said Carolina coach Kirk Muller. "I just don't remember a time where we've had this tough a time getting points."

Brian Boyle's empty-net goal with one second left gave the Rangers their final tally.

NOTES: Alexander Semin, Carolina's second-leading scorer, missed his first game of the season with an upper-body injury. ... New York's Roman Hamrlik remained five games shy of 1,400 for his career after being a healthy scratch for a third straight game. ... The Hurricanes have gone scoreless in the first period in nine of 19 homes games. ... Lundqvist has played in 33 of New York's 38 games. ... Rayne Clowe assisted on New York's first goal for his fourth point in three games since being traded from San Jose on April 2. ... Carolina has allowed at least one power-play goal in seven of its last nine games.
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