Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 3/13/12
Brad Richards scored twice and Martin Biron, a last-minute replacement for Henrik Lundqvist, made 27 saves as the New York Rangers beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 on Tuesday. New York's top line had a stellar night. Marian Gaborik also scored and Carl Hagelin had a goal and assisted on both of Richards' goals as they combined for four goals and nine points. The Rangers took advantage of a soft part in the schedule to extend their winning streak to two after having dropped three in a row. The wins over the New York Islanders and the Hurricanes, two teams unlikely to make the playoffs, followed a three-game losing streak. The victory extended the Rangers lead in the Atlantic Division to six points over Pittsburgh. The Penguins, winners of nine in a row, are the Rangers next opponent on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. That game is expected to feature the comeback of Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby who has missed more than three months with concussion-like symptoms. Tim Brent and Drayson Bowman scored for the Hurricanes who fell to 3-13-3 against the Atlantic Division. Biron got the start when Lundqvist was sidelined with the flu and he was steady to improve to 12-4-2. Gaborik capitalized on a fortuitous bounce to net his team-leading 34th goal at 3:02 of the first. Dan Girardi hammered a shot from the point that missed the net and hit the end boards. The puck bounced right to Gaborik, all alone to the left side of the Carolina goal, for an easy tap-in past Cam Ward. That was the only tally of the first period in which the Rangers had a 10-9 edge in shots. Carolina spent much of the first 10 minutes of the second period in the New York zone but could not beat Biron. On their first sustained pressure of the period, the Rangers went up 2-0 as Richards flipped a shot past Ward's glove at 10:12. Richards struck again at 13:11, patiently dragging the puck across the slot until Ward went down, providing a shooting angle. It was the fifth goal in the past three games for Richards. And the Rangers seemed solidly in command, until Carolina stormed back as Brent and Bowman scored 32 seconds apart. Brent got it started, getting the puck out of a maze of players to push a power-play tally past Biron at 14:44. Bowman followed with a blast from the right circle and the Hurricanes were back in the game. Carolina came close to pulling even in the opening seconds of the third period as Eric Staal stripped Gaborik of the puck for a short-handed breakaway only to ring a shot off the post behind Biron. Hagelin scored at the 13-minute mark to end any Carolina comeback hopes. NOTES: The Hurricanes concluded a five-game road trip. They host St. Louis on Thursday. ... The Rangers called up Chad Johnson from Connecticut of the AHL to back up Biron. ... In addition to Lundqvist, the other New York scratches were defensemen Michael Del Zotto (hip injury) and Jeff Woywitka, RW and captain Ryan Callahan (bruised foot) and LW John Scott. The Hurricanes scratches were D Jaroslav Spacek (lower body injury), C Jiri Tlusty (illness) and RW Anthony Stewart. D Bobby Sanguinetti, a Rangers first-round pick in 2006, made his season debut following a recall from the minors by the Hurricanes on Monday.
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