Ward's shutout powers Hurricanes past Rangers
RALEIGH, North Carolina
RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - The Carolina Hurricanes leapfrogged into the Eastern Conference playoff picture Monday after netminder Cam Ward's fifth shutout of the season led them to a 3-0 victory over the New York Rangers.
The rejuvenated Hurricanes began the day in ninth place in the East but their fourth consecutive victory allowed them to pass Florida, the Rangers and Pittsburgh and pull even with fifth-place Montreal on 77 points.
"It was a playoff game in our eyes," Ward told reporters. "Everybody knows what's at stake."
The Hurricanes netminder, in winning for the eighth time in 10 games, stopped 28 shots by the Rangers, who had a three-game win streak snapped.
"Man-to-man it was a very solid game by us," Ward added. "We stayed patient, waited for the opportunities and we didn't force the issue."
Carolina opened the scoring on Joe Corvo's second-period tally, before Rod Brind'Amour scored on a power play 3:41 into the third and Tuomo Ruutu's added an empty-netter with 25 seconds left on the clock.
"Brind'Amour's last four games are the kind that I remembered," Paul Maurice, the Hurricanes coach who was rehired in December, told reporters.
"The scoring part is extra. There was a shift in the second period where his line was in our end of the ice and the Rangers had a good 35 or 40 seconds of zone possession and never got the puck inside the (faceoff) dots."
Brind'Amour had gone 29 games without a goal before scoring in the last two.
Rangers backup netminder Stephen Valiquette made the initial save on a shot by Matt Cullen in the second period but Corvo got the rebound and scored.
"I just had a weird feeling that there was going to be something laying there," Corvo told reporters.
"I tried to get up as tight to the pack as I could and I was real surprised their guys didn't get to the puck before I did," the defenseman added. "It seemed there was a guy just standing there watching it."
Ray Whitney assisted on the first two goals and Erik Cole, reacquired from Edmonton Wednesday, helped set up Ruutu's score.
Valiquette, making his first start since February 6, had 33 saves in the loss for New York.
The Rangers had a goal disallowed with the game barely three minutes old because of a hand pass from Brandon Dubinsky to Nikolai Zherdev.
With Ward falling on him in a scramble, Dubinsky knocked the puck across the crease with his glove and Zherdev scored. The red light went on to signal a goal but officials quickly disallowed it.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry; Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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