Rangers continue road trip in Carolina

After gaining three out of a possible four points in a home-and-home series with the Eastern Conference's best team, the New York Rangers will continue a three-game road trip Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Rangers slammed the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins by a 6-1 score Wednesday night in New York and then lost a shootout decision Friday in the Steel City.

The Blueshirts are still 18 points behind Pittsburgh for first place in the Atlantic Division, but New York is tied with the Islanders for the last two playoff spots in the East. The New York clubs are just one point ahead of New Jersey in the conference standings and two ahead of Winnipeg. All four teams are in action on Saturday.

Rick Nash scored with 4:49 remaining in the third period on Friday to help New York force overtime with the Penguins. However, Jussi Jokinen scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the home team the extra point.

"I thought we dominated the third," Rangers head coach John Tortorella said. "The reason why we don't win the game in the third is (Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre) Fleury."

Henrik Lundqvist made 26 stops for the Rangers, but he suffered a lower body injury in Friday's shootout and his status for Saturday is questionable. Lundqvist has started 32 of New York's 37 games this season, but backup Martin Biron could be forced into action against Carolina.

The Rangers have lost three straight on the road and are 6-9-2 as the visiting team this season. New York will close its current trip when it plays Toronto on Monday in the opener of another home-and-home set.

New York has won six straight against the Hurricanes overall and Carolina has dropped five of its last six home tests versus the Rangers.

The Hurricanes have lost three straight to begin the month of April and have dropped 10 of their last 11 games. Despite the rough stretch, Carolina is still only four points out of first place in the Southeast Division.

Carolina last played on Thursday, when it was slammed 5-0 by the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning. The Hurricanes fired 45 shots on net, but Ben Bishop stopped every one of them to record a shutout in his debut with the Lightning.

Dan Ellis stopped 25-of-30 shots for the Hurricanes, who are 1-9-1 over their last 11 games.

"I thought we came out strong in the first period. It was a good, even match," said Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller. "We looked like a fragile team when we give up that first goal right off the start in the second."

Carolina is 0-6-0 over its last six home games and is 7-11-0 as the host this season. The Hurricanes are closing a three-game homestand tonight and will play four of their next six on the road.