RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Ryan Sproul scored and Kevin Hayes added a short-handed goal, and the New York Rangers beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 on Saturday night to eliminate them from the playoff race.
Henrik Lundqvist made 40 saves for the Rangers, who entered having lost three straight and six of seven — going 1-4-2 in that stretch — and were formally knocked out of the postseason chase earlier in the week.
Jeff Skinner scored and Cam Ward made 18 saves for the Hurricanes, whose longshot playoff hopes were snuffed out and will miss out for the ninth straight year — the longest active postseason drought in the NHL. For the third consecutive season, their official elimination came in their 79th game.
Lundqvist’s third victory against Carolina this season helped the Rangers finish off a sweep in the series. New York won the first three games by a combined 17-5, but this was Ward’s first start of the season against them. Carolina’s previous three losses came with Scott Darling in net.
Skinner’s goal with 11:53 remaining made it a one-goal game, but the Rangers locked down after that, ending the game by killing a slashing penalty to Hayes over the final 74 seconds.
Sproul scored first with 16:59 left in the second period. After Paul Carey dug the puck out of the corner, he found Sproul skating unimpeded between the circles and he ripped it past Ward for his first goal.
Then, with teammate Mika Zibanejad in the penalty box for tripping, Jesper Fast led a rush and threaded a pass to Hayes for a short-handed goal with 6:37 left in the second. That put the Rangers — who entered 21-0-1 when leading after two periods — up 2-0 after 40 minutes.
NOTES: Sproul’s goal left D Rob O’Gara as the only Rangers skater in the lineup without at least one goal on the season. … Carolina C Derek Ryan, who assisted on Skinner’s goal, has points in four straight games.
Rangers: Continue their season-ending four-game road trip at New Jersey on Tuesday night.
Hurricanes: Will try to play spoiler at Florida on Tuesday night.
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