NEW YORK – As mad as Chris Drury was after missing the net on a short-handed breakaway, the New York Rangers captain knew he’d get another chance to give his team a much-needed win.
Drury had the go-ahead goal on his stick late in regulation, but he fired wide. Then in the fifth round of a scoreless shootout, coach Tom Renney put him in position to shine.
With a deft deke to the backhand, Drury flipped the puck past Cam Ward to lift the Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night. New York had been outscored 25-12 in its previous six games (2-4), including a humiliating 8-5 loss at New Jersey on Friday night.
“He knew I was frustrated, knew I had missed one in the third,” Drury said. “For some reason, I thought he would come to me. As I was watching the shootout, I had an idea what I was going to do and I just had a feeling he was going to call me.”
Renney laughed when Drury’s premonition was relayed to him.
“He’ll be a good coach someday,” Renney said. “He’s so good, and like any good player you want to make the difference when the opportunity was there.”
Henrik Lundqvist made Drury’s moment possible by stopping all five shootout shots. The Rangers are 8-1 in the tiebreaker, with Lundqvist winning seven times.
Lundqvist bounced back from letting in eight goals on 34 shots on Friday. He leads the NHL with 17 wins but had gone 0-3 in his previous three starts, allowing 17 goals. When he stopped Justin Williams on the final shootout attempt, he pumped his arm and smacked the left post in celebration. He made 29 saves through overtime.
“I’m happy that Tom gave me the opportunity to play right away,” Lundqvist said. “I didn’t have a couple days to think too much, just get back there right away and play a game.”
Markus Naslund and Blair Betts scored first-period goals for the Rangers, and Tuomo Ruutu and Ray Whitney responded for the Hurricanes in a matchup of teams coming off wild losses.
Ward got back into the Carolina net for the first time in five games following a groin injury and stopped 27 shots. Ward saw his first action since Paul Maurice took over for fired Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette.
“I felt great. I’m just trying to get back into the game,” Ward said. “You’re never satisfied with a shootout loss. You play the game to win and there is always room for improvement, but I think we’ve shown a lot of good signs, a lot of positives.”
The Hurricanes had a prime chance to break the 2-2 deadlock in the third when a high-sticking double minor to Drury and an interference call on Scott Gomez gave Carolina a two-man advantage for two minutes. They didn’t convert then or on another later power play.
Carolina managed only three shots on a pair of 5-on-3 power plays.
“We need to put one in there,” Maurice said. “One or two chances are not what we’re looking for.”
Naslund, likely inspired by the presence of Swedish countryman Mats Sundin, played a strong first period and made it 1-0 with a rare power-play goal at 7:27.
Gomez passed the puck out front to Naslund for his 12th goal. The Rangers’ power play had connected only once in 29 opportunities over seven games – including an 0-for-9 whitewash on Friday that also produced two short-handed goals for the Devils.
Before the goal could be announced, Ruutu tied it.
During a delayed penalty, Eric Staal set up a shot by defenceman Tim Gleason, and Ruutu put in the rebound at 7:49 – just 22 seconds after Naslund scored.
It was a familiar scene for the Rangers, who stormed back from a 5-1 deficit on Friday to tie it in the third period, yet let the Devils go back in front 11 seconds later.
Carolina still smarted from its previous game when Philadelphia scored four times in the third Thursday to get even at five before winning in a shootout.
Betts put away a scoring chance after being denied on two opportunities to make it 2-1. It was the third short-handed goal scored by the Rangers, who have allowed an NHL-worst 10.
The Hurricanes tied it in the second after failing on three straight power plays in the first that included another 5-on-3 advantage. Whitney scored to stretch his point streak to five games (three goals, three assists).
Sundin, a highly coveted free agent, was at Madison Square Garden as part of a promotion for a Poker Web site. He hasn’t decided whether he will continue playing, but was expected to meet with Rangers officials during the weekend.
Notes: Gleason was activated from the injured list after he missed eight games due to a leg injury. D Casey Borer was reassigned to Albany (AHL). … After going 12 games without allowing more than two goals, Lundqvist gave up at least three in six of his previous nine outings. … The Rangers haven’t won in regulation since beating Phoenix on Nov. 24. … Carolina is 1-1-3 under Maurice.