NEW YORK (AP) — Patrick Dwyer and Eric Staal scored before 4 minutes elapsed, and the cellar-dwelling Carolina Hurricanes sent the New York Rangers to their fourth straight loss, 5-1 on Wednesday night.
Dwyer and Staal beat goalie Henrik Lundqvist with consecutive shots 25 seconds apart to give the Hurricanes their third win in four games. Cam Ward, playing in his 20th straight game, made 37 saves for Carolina (17-28-7), which has an Eastern Conference-low 41 points.
The Hurricanes also beat Boston 5-1 in their previous game Sunday.
Ryan Callahan scored for the Rangers in the second period, but Sergei Samsonov answered 41 seconds later for Carolina. Samsonov's second of the game and 10th this season made it 4-1 at 7:51 of the third. Staal turned it into a full rout when he scored again during a 5-on-3 power play with 5:18 remaining.
New York, which has four consecutive regulation losses for the first time this season, began the night tied in points for eighth in the East but only three points ahead of 13th-place Tampa Bay. The Rangers are on a 3-6-2 skid.
They had opportunities to rally against the Hurricanes, but went 0 for 4 on the power play. New York held a 38-24 shots advantage.
The Hurricanes took a quick lead after controlling play in the Rangers' zone. Defenseman Aaron Ward slid a pass to Joni Pitkanen, whose drive from the left point was deflected by Dwyer between his legs while his back was turned to Lundqvist. Dwyer's goal at 3:11, on Carolina's third shot, was his fourth tally this season and fifth in 41 NHL games.
Carolina doubled the lead at 3:36 with its next shot. Staal, on a tear since taking over as captain from Rod Brind'Amour, took a pass from Ray Whitney off the left-wing boards, skated around defenseman Dan Girardi, and beat Lundqvist between the pads from a tough angle.
Staal has seven goals in four games with the 'C' on his sweater. He also has points in six consecutive contests, posting seven goals and three assists.
The Rangers showed life in the second period when they recorded a season-high 22 shots. Their first cut the deficit to 2-1 at 1:24.
After Pitkanen failed to clear the puck, Vinny Prospal got control of it and sent a pass to Marc Staal at the left point. Staal let go a shot that Callahan deflected up and over Ward's glove.
Before the Madison Square Garden crowd could fully enjoy the moment, Samsonov restored the Hurricanes' two-goal edge at 2:05 when he tipped in a shot by defenseman Andrew Alberts.
The quick strike was reminiscent of New York's 4-2 home loss to Pittsburgh on Monday. Just 31 seconds after Artem Anisimov gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead in the third period of that one, Evgeni Malkin tied it.
In the past four games, the Rangers have scored three goals and have been tied or behind for all but those 31 seconds.
NOTES: Whitney stretched his point streak to six games (2 goals, 6 assists). ... The Rangers went 11 minutes, 35 seconds without a shot in the first and finished with four. ... New York's previous high this season for shots for in a period was 21 in the second at Boston on Jan. 9. ... Tom Kostopoulos had two assists for Carolina. ... Samsonov has three goals in five games since returning from injury. ... The Rangers weren't whistled for a penalty until Dan Girardi went off for holding and Ryan Callahan for tripping with 6:50 left.