The recap from Raleigh: the game story, more quotes and extra numbers:
I was looking for more coffee after the first 40 minutes here at RBC Center. And it wasn't the pulled pork dinner that was making me drowsy.
Neither the Rangers or Hurricanes generated much electricity for much of last night’s game.
There were the two sparks at the start of the second period, first when Sergei Samsonov curled behind the net for a wraparound at 46 seconds after Henrik Lundqvist had stopped a shot at the post with his left skate. Then Marian Gaborik responded with another timely goals, his 25th overall of the season just 28 seconds later to tie the game at 1, before the defense settled in.
Leave it to Brandon Dubinsky, whose backhand pass from behind the net led to the first goal, to finally light the fuse.
He roofed a backhander over Cam Ward at 1:21 of the third period on a pretty feed from Gaborik for a 2-1 lead.
Forechecking and neutral zone grinding prevented odd-man rushes until Marc Staal’s 130-foot empty-netter with 33 seconds left sealed the 3-1 win, the Rangers third consecutive victory.
It is their first such stitched-together streak since beating the Maple Leafs on Oct. 17.
Dubinsky’s goal was his first in the five games since he returned from a broken right hand suffered in Calgary on Nov. 7 and was sidelined for 13 games. Before the game, he removed the plastic shield that protected the injury and a device that limited his flexibility.
“It takes a while to get back into the groove of things and when I first came back my hand wasn’t where I wanted it to be,” said Dubinsky, who also won 12 of 19 faceoffs. “Tonight was the first time I was able to play without having my hand covered, not to make excuses, but anytime you’re hindered by anything it makes it harder. I’ve tried hard and worked hard and tonight I took a big step, producing a little bit which, let’s face it, is one of my jobs being on the top line; I’ve gotta get some points.”
After Dubinsky’s go-ahead goal, the Rangers played a far stronger third period than in the 2-1 win in Philadelphia on Saturday for their third straight road win and inched above .500 at 17-16-3. “I thought we were more on our toes and really tried to sustain our forecheck, and Dubi’s line led the way there,” said coach John Tortorella. “I thought he fought the puck a little in the first period, but he gave us a lot of good minutes in the second and third.”
Henrik Lundqvist, who made 32 saves against the Eastern Conference cellar-dwellers, said the Rangers didn’t “try to overplay things…sometimes when you want to do too much, you’re all over the place. You can see when we’re in the lead, there’s not a lot of odd-man rushes, right now as a team we are playing smarter. When you’re winning, you don’t drain yourself between games. When you’re losing you think a lot, when you’re winning you can relax.”
Beside Lundqvist, Gaborik, who was held off the scoresheet on Saturday in Philadelphia, left his usual mark: he has a point or more in 28 of 34 games. And much-maligned Michal Rozsival had an assist and played another impressive, physical game.
“There’s things we can do better in these games, but we’re starting to turn things around,” said Dubinsky. “Hank’s playing awesome, we’re playing pretty good team d and if we can start burying a few more chances, we can take some pressure off ourselves in the third periods.”
Torts:"We're growing, I think the grit of the team is improving...Not just in our own zone but along the boards int he neutral zone to try to get into a forecheck. It was a better game for uis than the Philly game/ I thought we played a better third period. SO as far as the battle level and grind of the game, I think we're improving there."
Canes coach Paul Maurice: "There were good chances at both end and both teams needed tennis racquets...They did a pretty good job, their defense, they collapsed the front of the net, their goaltender gets down low and played a lot of rebounds that we couldn't get a handle on. "
Brian Boyle, who was grabbing a hot dog in the corridor outside the upstairs press box, was moving gingerly, but said his lower back was improving. "It happens about once a year, but this one made me just pull up," said Boyle, who felt the twinge in Philly. "You know I couldn't move, it would've been a 3 on 2 and I dumped it.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Rangers are 10-7-2 on the road and 7-9-1 at the Garden, where they open a three-game homestand on Wednesday against Florida...The Blueshirts haven't won at home since Nov. 23 against Columbus...The Rangers had just six shots in the second period....Lundqvist has stopped 103 of the last 107 shots; he has started 10 in a row...Michal Rozsival and Marc Staal played 24-plus minutes each. Staal said he had "a ton of time" (on his empty-netter from the left circle in the Rangers zone) and couldn't find a pass. I didn't want to flip it up the boards, or it would have been icing, so I shot it and was fortunate that it went in." It was Staal's fourth of the season....
The No. 6 ranked PK was 3-for-3...Dubinsky now had four goals and nine assists...Rozsival, who saved a potential goal by tying up Eric Staal's stick while facing a half-open net, has four assists in his last seven games and is playing his best hockey of the year....Vinny Prospal's 24th assist came on the game-winner...As for the second chancers, Wade Redden played 18:46 and was OK; Matt Gilroy played 15:36 including 31 seconds on the power play and was a plus-1. Ales Kotalik bounced around between lines for 11:36 and was on the ice for Samsonov's goal...Ward made 28 saves in his sixth game since returning from a left leg laceration in early November against Columbus...