The Hurricanes' Sebastian Aho works for the puck against the Rangers'...

The Hurricanes' Sebastian Aho works for the puck against the Rangers' Jack Roslovic during the first period of an NHL game in Raleigh, N.C., on Tuesday. Credit: AP/Karl B DeBlaker

RALEIGH, N.C. — Igor Shesterkin made 28 saves for his second straight shutout as the Rangers extended their lead in the Metropolitan Division after a 1-0 win over the Hurricanes on Tuesday night for their third win a row.

Adam Fox scored his 11th of the season late in the first period and Shesterkin made it stand in a tight-checking match that resembled a playoff game. 

The Rangers blocked 23 shots, led by Fox with five, as the Blueshirts won both ends of a back-to-back after beating the Devils the night before.

“They were awesome tonight,’’ Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “To travel in here and play a team that’s playing as well as they are and [we] played the night before, and [we were] missing a couple of big heavy bodies that play physical for us. Guys really stepped up and played a terrific game.’’

The Rangers (43-18-4, 90 points) played their third straight game without Jacob Trouba, their team leader in blocked shots and hits. They also were without rookie forward Matt Rempe, who was suspended for four games after his elbow to the head of the Devils’ Jonas Siegenthaler on Monday.

The Rangers stretched their lead over second-place Carolina (39-20-6, 84 points) to six points in the Metropolitan Division. The Blueshirts have a day off Wednesday, then play the Lightning on Thursday in the second of a three-game road trip.

Shesterkin earned his third shutout of the season. He has not allowed a goal since Florida’s Ryan Lomberg beat him at 6:11 of the third period of the Rangers’ 4-2 loss to the Panthers on March 4.

“To be honest, today it was my mom’s birthday,’’ Shesterkin said with a smile. “I couldn’t play a bad game tonight.’’

Shesterkin is 8-1-1 record with three shutouts in his last 10 starts.

The third period turned into an end-to-end affair at times. The Rangers had a chance to open a 2-0 lead just under five minutes into it, when a turnover by Carolina in the Rangers zone sprang Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck for a two-on-none break.

Panarin sent a pass across to Trocheck, driving to the back post, but Pyotr Kochetkov (23 saves) somehow got across the crease and got his left pad down to make the save on Trocheck’s tip-in attempt.

Then the puck went the other way, where Shesterkin found himself having to stick his right pad out to make a save on former Penguins star Jake Guentzel in the goal crease.

Guentzel, the big fish who got away from the Rangers at the trade deadline, was activated off injured reserve and made his Hurricanes debut, playing on the same line as their other deadline pickup — center Evgeny Kuznetsov — and Martin Necas. Guentzel had one shot on goal in 15:12 of ice time.

The Rangers had most of the possession in the opening period and outshot Carolina 12-5. It was scoreless, though, until Fox shot the puck toward the front of the net and it banked in off the skate of former Ranger Brady Skjei to get past Kochetkov with 8.0 seconds left.

Fox admitted afterward that with time running down, he was shooting the puck toward the front of the net, hoping for a deflection of some sort.

“Yeah, I was. I was trying to almost bank it off Rosie [Jack Roslovic], or hope it hit his stick or something,’’ he said. “I saw him going to the back door, and I think we kind of had a little bit of a mentality coming in to deliver pucks early, get it there. It’s kind of what [the Hurricanes] do. And you know, you do that, you get bounces. And I was fortunate for that one there.’’

Notes & quotes: Fox played a game-high 24:51. No other player on either team skated 22 minutes. Fox had a team-high five blocked shots Tuesday after doing the same in Monday's win . . . D Braden Schneider received 21:13 of ice time . . . Jonny Brodzinski, playing in place of Rempe, won 5 of 6 faceoffs.

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