Rookie J.T. Miller scored from a sharp angle, beating Carolina's Dan Ellis for the game-winner in the third round of the shootout, to snap the Rangers' three-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory at Madison Square Garden Monday night.
"He almost fanned," John Tortorella said. "He went so slow I think he missed it about three or four times, but he has some jam now . . . I was confident he could make a play."
Said Miller: "The fact that he has a little faith in me there means a lot."
Rick Nash, with a deke and a backhanded reach-around, netted the Rangers' first goal in the shootout. Henrik Lundqvist stopped Jiri Tlusty and Alexander Semin's backhand hit the post, setting the stage for Miller.
"I'm happy he [Miller] got a chance to go out there," Lundqvist said. "He's been looking good in practice. It's a big relief. It's been a little while since we've had this feeling."
So with injured defenseman Marc Staal, who has missed seven games after suffering an eye injury on March 5, watching from a suite, the Rangers (14-12-2) won for the 10th time at home and head to New Jersey for a matchup with the Devils Tuesday night.
"It means nothing if we don't go into Jersey and play the same way or go into Jersey and get a win," Ryan Callahan said.
After a listless first period, the Rangers controlled the rest of the game but couldn't beat Ellis more than once. Ryan McDonagh hit the crossbar early in overtime and the Rangers had five of the first six shots, with the Blueshirts totaling 36 through overtime.
In the third period, the Rangers hit the post twice. First Callahan had Ellis sliding on his back with the puck under him, but never across the goal line. At 10:01, Michael Del Zotto's shot from the right point also hit the iron.
Starting in the second, trailing 1-0, the Rangers played more of a north-south game, and it paid off.
Derek Stepan, with a spinaround from about 12 feet, broke the Rangers' scoreless drought of 129:55 at 11:06. Callahan had crossed the crease, bumping Ellis, who was out of position. The Rangers outshot the Hurricanes 12-4 in the period.
Del Zotto, who hadn't scored since Jan. 29 -- a span of 19 games -- led the Rangers in ice time in the first 40 minutes. Del Zotto played his best game offensively in weeks.
The Hurricanes' Eric Staal scored his 14th of the season on a one-timer from the right circle with 51 seconds left in the first to provide a 1-0 lead. It was the third straight game that the Rangers' opponent scored first, and the Garden crowd booed the Blueshirts, who were outshot 14-6 in the period.
The Rangers' best chance came after a shot by Alexander Semin off McDonagh's giveaway. Carl Hagelin picked up the puck and raced down the ice on a breakaway. He went to his forehand, but Ellis got his pads down to deny the shot at 10:17.
So it came down to Nash, who had missed wide left on a breakaway in the second, and Miller, who hadn't scored in 17 games, to make the difference. And provide some well-earned relief.