Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 11/30/11
The New York Rangers extended their hot streak with a pair of victories over strong division rivals, which seems to suggest they wouldn't have trouble with the struggling Carolina Hurricanes - especially if the first meeting of the season is any indication. New York seeks its fourth straight victory when it visits Carolina on Thursday night. The Rangers (13-5-3) won for the 10th time in 12 games with a 4-3 victory over Atlantic Division-leading Pittsburgh on Tuesday, which was preceded by a 2-0 win over Philadelphia on Saturday. Brad Richards had a goal and two assists against the Penguins while Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik each added a goal and an assist. Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves and has gone 8-1-0 with a 1.88 goals-against average over his last nine starts. He hasn't allowed more than three goals in that span. Lundqvist helped New York easily handle Carolina on Nov. 11, making 34 saves in a 5-1 win. Callahan, Richards and Brandon Dubinsky each had a goal and an assist. That defeat is part of a dismal start for the Hurricanes (8-14-4), who have lost four straight and dropped new coach Kirk Muller's debut 3-1 to Florida on Tuesday. The Rangers may face a challenge in staying focused against a struggling opponent after earning the two key wins over division rivals. "It is vital to this team to not take it easy and not go lightly on an opponent that is maybe wounded and kind of weak right now," forward John Mitchell told the Rangers' official website after scoring his first goal of the season versus Pittsburgh. "We have to keep the killer instinct going and go, go, go and go hard because every point counts. It doesn't matter what team we play, we have to make sure to bring it every night." Though both of New York's losses during its current run have come on the road, Carolina has nine home defeats - tied for most in the NHL. The Hurricanes have been outscored 31-19 in losing seven of nine at the RBC Center, and the Rangers have won three of four there. Carolina faces the task of adjusting to Muller's leadership after Paul Maurice was fired Monday. ''I said to them, `You guys did your part. You came, played hard,''' Muller said after the loss to Florida. ''It's been probably the way some of the games have been for them this year, and you want to give them hope. I just told them, `It wasn't tonight, but if the negative energy and when you go through these things, it can drain you so much. ''I said, `You know what, as an athlete, if you give it all you got, you have to feel good - especially in these times now.''' Cam Ward is 0-3-1 with a 2.74 GAA during the losing streak, though he's 4-1-2 with a 2.22 GAA in his last seven starts against New York. The Rangers have won three of the last four overall meetings.
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