By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
Rick Nash and J.T. Miller scored in the shootout to lift the Rangers past the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 Monday night at Madison Square Garden. The win snapped the Rangers three-game losing streak, while it extended Carolina's skid to three games at 0-2-1.
Henrik Lundqvist backstopped the team's first victory in more than a week with 29 saves through regulation and overtime. He also stopped Jiri Tlusty and Alexander Semin in the shootout, while Nash was scoring in the first round and Miller in the third against 'Canes netminder Dan Ellis, who made 35 saves. For Miller it was his first NHL shootout goal on his second career attempt.
The shootout followed a wild five-minute overtime period in which Nash and Ryan McDonagh both had splendid chances to end the game. Ellis made five stops in overtime, while Lundqvist made three.
The Rangers had their chances to break the tie in the first half of the third period, but came away just short on two occasions. On the first Jeff Halpern's perfect centering feed to Micheal Haley resulted in a solid pad save by Ellis; and on the second Ryan Callahan's chip shot bounced off Ellis and rolled along the goal line before the Hurricanes goaltender fell backwards on top of the puck.
After surrendering an Eric Staal goal with 50.4 seconds remaining in the first period, the Rangers pulled even on Derek Stepan's eighth of the season 11:06 into the second period. And that 1-1 score held up into the second intermission.
Stepan scored after Callahan barreled to the net from left wing and had his in-tight shot stuffed by Ellis. The rebound came out into the slot and Stepan spun and wristed a shot over the prone Ellis and into the back of the cage to tie the game. The Rangers had gone 129 minutes 55 seconds since their last goal which was scored by Callahan in the second period of Thursday's game in Winnipeg.
The second period was a far superior one for the Blueshirts than was the opening 20 minutes. In fact the first period Monday was eerily similar to Saturday's opening period in Pittsburgh when the Rangers did a lot of chasing and posessed the puck very little. Carolina outshot New York 14-6 in the first period, though the Rangers probably had the best scoring chance until Staal's goal---a Carl Hagelin partial breakaway that was denied by a strong pad save by Ellis.
Staal---who visited with his injured brother Marc, the Rangers defenseman, on Sunday along with their parents and third brother Jordan, who also plays for the Hurricanes---opened the scoring by converting a slick cross-ice feed from defenseman Joni Pitkanen. Staal had an easy one-timer from the bottom of the right circle for his 14th goal of the season.
The Rangers largely controlled play in the middle 20 minutes, skating to a 14-4 shots advantage. Not even included in that shot total were a pair of glorious scoring chances for Nash, which he failed to put on net---including a breakaway with his shot missing far to the stick side of Ellis.
Nash was reunited with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik on the No. 1 line by head coach John Tortorella, with Richards, in particular, seeming energized laying with the team's top two offensive wingers.
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