RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The New York Rangers are playing playoff hockey right now, according to newly acquired Martin St. Louis, who set up Derek Stepan's winning goal in a 4-2 victory over Carolina on Friday night.
The Rangers rallied from a goal down twice before finally taking the lead on Stepan's goal with 2:46 left in the game.
"This is how it is played in the playoffs," St. Louis said. "We want to play like it is the playoffs so we don't have to turn the switch on when it is the playoffs."
St. Louis, long a nemesis for the Hurricanes when he played for Tampa Bay, triggered Stepan's 5-on-3 goal with a stiff pass across the crease that Carolina could not defend. Stepan easily slammed the puck by Carolina goalkeeper Anton Khudobin, who was unable to slide back to the far post for the save.
"When you play in a game, you obviously want to contribute," St. Louis said. "We dictated the play, but we had trouble getting past the goal line. When you get a 5-on-3 at the end of the game, you've got to make it count."
Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh also scored for the Rangers, who beat Carolina for the 10th straight time. Carl Hagelin added an empty-netter with 41 seconds left in the game.
The game turned in New York's favor when Carolina took a pair of delay-of-game penalties in the final five minutes. Ron Hainsey went to the box first when he cleared a puck out of play from his defensive zone. And 1:12 later, Brett Bellemore joined him after making the same mistake to give the Rangers the 5-on-3.
Until then, Carolina did its best to hold off the Rangers.
Jeff Skinner scored on a penalty shot in the third period that gave Carolina a 2-1 lead. He was awarded the chance when Anton Stralman was called for obstructing Skinner's breakaway.
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