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Rangers rip into struggling Hurricanes
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Derek Stepan broke out of a scoring drought by netting his first three goals of the season, and the New York Rangers continued their recent dominance of the Carolina Hurricanes with a 5-1 win at Madison Square Garden.
Carl Hagelin added a pair of goals to support Stepan's second career hat trick, while Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 27-of-28 shots in the victory, the Rangers' third straight and ninth in a row over the struggling Hurricanes. Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello each recorded three assists in the rout.
Carolina was dealt its fifth consecutive regulation defeat and has managed just five goals during the skid. Andrej Sekera had the Hurricanes' lone marker, with Justin Peters registering 33 saves in the loss.
Hagelin gave the Rangers the early upper hand with 8:26 played in the first period, with the speedy wing skating up the left side and beating Peters to the stick side on a backhand attempt in transition.
Lundqvist made nine saves over the opening session to keep it a 1-0 game, then later stopped Eric Staal three times from in close during a Carolina power play early in the second. That same man advantage ended with the Rangers' Taylor Pyatt firing the puck down the ice from his own zone, and Hagelin raced out of the penalty box to corral it before stuffing a shot between Peters' pads where in all alone at the 8:16 mark of the frame.
Stepan made it a 3-0 game just over seven minutes afterward, blasting home a feed from Kreider after Peters turned back a long drive from Ryan McDonagh on a New York power play.
Carolina finally got some momentum during the waning stages of the second period. With the Rangers' Derek Dorsett serving a double-minor penalty, Sekera flicked a wrister from the left boards that sailed over Lundqvist's shoulder and in 37 seconds prior to the intermission.
Stepan ended any hopes of a Hurricanes' comeback, however, by notching the only two goals of the third period.
The New York center one-timed a behind-the-net pass from Zuccarello just over nine minutes into the final stanza to increase the lead to 5-1, then converted another Zuccarello give during a 3-on-2 rush with 5:23 left to play.
Stepan's only other hat trick came at Buffalo on Oct. 9, 2010 ... Hagelin delivered his fourth career two-goal effort, with the most recent coming against Tampa Bay on Feb. 10 of last season ... Kreider has posted five points (2G, 3A) during New York's three-game surge ... Hurricanes defenseman Brent Bellemore returned after missing three games with a lower-body injury ... Rangers center Dominic Moore (upper body) sat out a second straight contest ... The Hurricanes have now dropped five straight at MSG and haven't beaten the Rangers since Jan. 20, 2011.
11/02 22:15:55 ET
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