Larose nets two as Hurricanes storm Rangers

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RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) -- They're winning games in

bunches, seem unbeatable at home and are looking at an April

full of meaningful games. The Carolina Hurricanes are playing

like it's 2006 again -- and they don't need to be reminded of

what they accomplished back then.

Chad LaRose and Rod Brind'Amour scored 28 seconds apart late in

the third period, and the Hurricanes beat the New York Rangers

4-2 on Thursday night for their club-record 10th straight home

victory.

"We've got to keep this train rolling," center Eric Staal said.

LaRose finished with two goals, and Staal had a goal and an

assist for the Hurricanes, who extended their season-best

winning streak to seven while surpassing the nine consecutive

home-ice wins they had in 2005-06 -- when they went on to win

the franchise's first Stanley Cup.

They haven't been to the postseason since. But playing before

their rowdiest home crowd since that Cup run, they moved another

step closer to wrapping up a playoff berth, jumping past idle

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia into fourth place in the East with

93 points.

"We're just trying to get there," coach Paul Maurice said, "and

I'm not sure 93 is going to get you there."

Corey Potter and Dan Girardi scored for the Rangers, who held a

38-23 shots advantage but have lost four of six. The defeat,

coupled with Montreal's 5-1 win over the New York Islanders,

dropped the Rangers into eighth, two points ahead of idle

Florida.

"We're in the fight for our (playoff) lives right now," center

Brandon Dubinsky said. "We've got to get focused on the next one

and not sit here and pout or let this one creep into our next

game in a negative way. ... Points right now are crucial. We

still hold our own fate to get in so we need to make sure we

take care of that."

And just when it looked like the Rangers would manage at least

one point out of this one, LaRose and Brind'Amour turned a 2-2

game into a comfortable win for Carolina.

"We just tried to wear them down throughout the game and get

pucks behind their 'D,' and it worked it our advantage," LaRose

said.

LaRose broke a 2-all tie when he took a feed from Jussi Jokinen

as he skated across the net and tapped it past Henrik Lundqvist

with 7:35 remaining for his 18th goal. The crowd had yet to

settle down after that score when Brind'Amour made it a two-goal

game by beating Lundqvist with a wrist shot from the left

circle.

"The third period, we've talked about it for a while now, making

sure we're playing the same way, waiting for our chances, and

when we get them, to cash in," Staal said. "We did that in the

third."

Cam Ward, making his career-best 25th straight start, improved

to 17-6-2 in that stretch by turning aside 36 shots. Lundqvist

stopped 19 shots for the Rangers before he was pulled for an

extra attacker.

"It could have gone both ways, but (for) a span of 30 seconds,"

Lundqvist said. "The third goal was a good play by them and a

breakdown by us. Then, the fourth one was a fluky goal. They

just threw it on net, and I think it hit our guy and it went

in."

LaRose briefly put Carolina up 2-1 midway through the second

with a pretty tap-in of Ray Whitney's rebound, before Girardi

tied it at the 5-minute mark when he beat Ward with a slap shot

on the power play -- only the Rangers' third goal in 34 chances

with the man advantage.

Staal gave the Hurricanes an early lead about 4 minutes in on

their first power play -- and just their second shot on goal --

of the night. He unloaded a hard slap shot from behind the

circle that appeared to click off younger brother Marc Staal's

skate and past Lundqvist for his team-leading 35th goal.

Potter's first career goal tied it with 2 minutes before the

first break, a slap shot from the right point that got past a

screened Ward -- who was being pestered by noted antagonist Sean

Avery. It was New York's first goal this season in Raleigh; Ward

shut them out 3-0 on March 9.

The Rangers controlled much of the early action this time,

outshooting Carolina 13-3 largely because the Hurricanes, the

NHL's least-penalized team, were whistled four times during an

intense, physical opening 20 minutes. But as the Rangers'

power-play struggles mounted, so did their frustration, with an

agitated Gomez at one point slamming his stick into the ice.

"You get four power plays in the first period, you hope to come

out with at least a goal or two," defenseman Paul Mara said. "We

didn't do that tonight, and it may have cost us the game."

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