Posted: Thursday January 20, 2000 11:35 PM
RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- The quick-starting New York Rangers extended their winning streak to a season-high four games and completed a home-and-home sweep with a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Radek Dvorak and rookie Mike York scored first-period goals for the Rangers, who had grabbed leads in the opening two minutes of their previous three games.
John MacLean scored twice, including the 400th goal of his career, for New York, which has won four in a row for the first time since taking five straight from November 29-December 7, 1998.
"We're strating to play really well together," MacLean said. "The confidence is coming. A big key for us is getting off to a good start early and getting a lead."
The Rangers, who got 38 saves from All-Star Mike Richter, also continued their move in the Eastern Conference, where the sixth- and 11th-place teams are separated by only six points. New York is tied with Pittsburgh for eighth place.
Carolina is 11th, four points behind the Rangers, after losing two of three meetings between the teams in the past 12 days. The Hurricanes have dropped five in a row for the first time since the end of the 1997-98 season.
"It's disheartening," Hurricanes center Jeff O'Neill said. "But the only way to go from here is up. We have to find some way to get some wins."
The Rangers put Carolina in a hole 7 1/2 minutes into the first period, when Dvorak scored his first goal with his new team and eighth of the season on assists from Czech linemates Petr Nedved and Jan Hlavac.
Nedved sent a nifty pass from the right faceoff circle to the left of the crease, where Dvorak was able to bang a one-timer past goaltender Arturs Irbe.
Just 91 seconds later, York made it 2-0, netting his 13th from below the left hashmark on a feed from Adam Graves. He tied New Jersey's Scott Gomez for the rookie lead in goals.
While managing only five shots in each period, the Rangers took a 2-0 lead into the third, when MacLean got involved. He scored 2:11 into the period off a brilliant feed down low by Valeri Kamensky.
"The first one, I just went to the net and (Alexandre Daigle) made a great play to Val," MacLean said. "I just went to the front and put it in."
MacLean scored his second of the game, 12th of the season and 400th of his 16-year career into an empty net with two seconds left.
"Again at the end of the game, Val just found me up in the slot and gave it to me and I just fired it down the ice," he said. "It was a lucky one, but we'll take it."
Kamensky, who missed 23 games earlier this season with an arm injury, assisted on both of MacLean's goals. He has three goals and four assists in the last four games while playing on a line with MacLean and Daigle.
Richter was solid in his ninth straight start and 27th in 28 games, stopping all 23 shots over the first two periods and 15 of 16 in the third.
"They have an outstanding goaltender," O'Neill said. "He proved it tonight. We threw everything at him. We had a lot of opportunities."
"He's playing tremendous hockey," MacLean added. "He keeps us in the game when we need it. He has been a big help to our confidence."
Ron Francis ended Richter's shutout bid in the closing minutes, scoring his 12th goal from in front off a feed from Sami Kapanen.
The Hurricanes' special teams continued to fail them. Dvorak's goal was the eighth in 11 shorthanded situations against Carolina, which was 0-for-8 on the power play.
New York has killed 22 consecutive power plays over the last five games. This was the opener of a four-game road trip for the Rangers.
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