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W2W4: Rangers vs. Hurricanes

3/18/2013

At a glance: Securing only two of 10 points in the past five games, the Rangers return from a four-game road trip looking to snap a three-game losing streak; they face the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night at Madison Square Garden in the clubs’ first meeting of the season. The team’s recent stretch has been worrisome, as three listless losses have left them outside the playoff picture in the East. The Blueshirts are in 10th place with 28 points, just three points behind the eighth-place Hurricanes.

Trade rumors swirling: The more Marian Gaborik struggles, the more his future with the Rangers comes into question. With only one goal in the past 14 games, Gaborik’s name has been bandied about as the April 3 trade deadline approaches. Coming off a 41-goal season, Gaborik (eight goals, nine assists) has scored in only five of the Rangers' 27 games. After this season, the 31-year-old sniper has one more year on a five-year, $37.5 million deal.

Top line reunited: In an effort to spark Gaborik and the Rangers’ overall offense (outscored 9-2 in the past three games), coach John Tortorella reunited the team’s trio of top forwards. Gaborik skated on the left wing with center Brad Richards and right wing Rick Nash during Monday’s morning skate.

Brother act: Monday would’ve marked the first time in their NHL careers that Marc, Jordan and Eric Staal were on the ice together in the same game, but one brother will be missing from the group. Marc remains out indefinitely with an eye injury suffered earlier this month. His younger sibling, Jordan, was traded this summer from Pittsburgh to Carolina, where he joined the eldest Staal brother, Eric, on the Hurricanes.

Staal streaking: Speaking of Eric Staal, the Canes' captain enters MSG on a four-game point streak, with five points (one goal, four assists) during that span. Staal leads Carolina with 33 points (13 goals, 20 assists) although former Capital Alexander Semin is not far behind. Semin is also riding a four-game point streak (two goals, four assists); he has eight goals and 21 assists in his first season with the Hurricanes.

Similar slump: Although the Canes still retain a grip on the last playoff spot in the East, they are also trying to halt a mini-skid of their own. Carolina has dropped its past two games -- a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and a 3-2 defeat to the Capitals on Thursday.