Henrik Lundqvist thinks the Rangers are a work in progress.
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"As a goalie, you just need to be ready, do your job and try to make the saves that we need," Lundqvist said after making 33 saves for his first shutout this season and 56th of his career, leading the New York Rangers to a 3-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
"We have to improve to get to where we want to go," he added.
Jesper Fast, Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh scored for New York, which improved to 11-2-2 with its sixth straight win. The Rangers improved to 17-1-0 against Carolina since Feb. 22, 2011.
"Whoa," said second-year Carolina coach Bill Peters after being told of New York's success against his team. "Whoa, that's a big number."
Fast and Nash scored 11 seconds apart in the first to give the Rangers the lead even though Carolina controlled play for much of the period.
Fast scored his third of the year following a sequence in which New York was able to maintain extended possession of the puck in the offensive zone, leading to the right winger taking a shot from the right circle.
Nash's goal was aided by a giveaway, and Cam Ward's over-aggressiveness. The Carolina goaltender slid far to his left, leaving Nash with essentially an empty net to tuck the puck into.
"It took us a while to find our legs in the first period," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Once we got that, we capitalized with two quick goals."
Ward stopped 20 of 23 shots for the Hurricanes, who fell to 6-9-0.
"A little bit of a microcosm," Peters said in response to a question about this game being emblematic of his team's season to date. "For sure. We did a lot of good things. I don't think we gave up much 5 on 5."
Carolina had advantages in shots on goal (33-23), total attempted shots (67-37) and had six power plays compared to New York's two.
"I thought there were some scoring chances," Peters said. "If we could have gotten one, it would have been a little bit different."
On a night in which Lundqvist passed Mike Richter for most appearances for a goaltender in franchise history and became New York's record holder for combined regular season and postseason saves, New York's netminder was strong throughout. Never more so than in the second period, where he made 14 saves to help the Rangers maintain their two-goal lead.
Arguably his toughest save came with 8:03 left in regulation, when he grabbed Victor Rask's drive from the circle after Dan Girardi turned the puck over in the defensive zone.
"He was good,"Eric Staal said of Lundqvist, who benefited from good fortune as Jeff Skinner's shot hit the crossbar and caromed out."He was good early. I thought we had some good looks. It was a good start for us. We weren't able to get one by him in the first five (minutes) and they found their legs."
McDonagh's goal 13 seconds into the third ended the scoring.
"They're only down 2-0 going into the third," McDonagh said. "That's somewhat of a good spot for a road team, (and) we wanted to take away the energy or any kind of momentum right off the hop.
"I just put a puck towards the net and got a lucky bounce," he said.
Notes: New York scratched Dylan McIlrath and Dominic Moore. When asked why he held out Moore following the optional skate, Vigneault said he was "just trying to piece all our lines," and later added, "any time you're faced with decisions like that, it's not easy. Especially a guy like Dom and what he's done for our team. But I'm looking at the big picture and I'm trying to see if we can't come up with a combination." ... Carolina scratched Noah Hanifin, Andrej Nestrasil and Brad Malone. Hanifin, the fifth overall pick in the draft, has been scratched three times in 15 games. Still, Peters said Hanifin's development has "been good. It's a big step from where he was three years ago. We were talking about it at the ceremony last night: Three years ago, he's playing high school hockey, so it's a big step over a 36 month period. He's handled it well."