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Rangers Prepare for Crosby, Penguins With Win Over Hurricanes

Brad Richards scored two goals as the New York Rangers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 for their second straight win in the National Hockey League.

Marian Gaborik’s 34th goal of the season gave the Rangers the lead after three minutes, two seconds at Madison Square Garden in New York last night.

Richards added two goals in a three-minute span of the second period before Tim Brent and Drayson Bowman cut the deficit to one with the last period to play. Carl Hagelin, who assisted on both Richards goals, sealed the win seven minutes from the end.

The Rangers have 95 points, three fewer than league leader the St. Louis Blues, who lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in a shootout last night.

New York (44-18-7) leads the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference by 12 points over the Boston Bruins, who lost 6-1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning last night. The Rangers extended their lead in the Atlantic Division over the Pittsburgh Penguins to six points.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will return against the Rangers in their next game, at Madison Square Garden tomorrow night.

Crosby, 24, has missed 59 games during the past two seasons because of concussions and their aftermath. He sustained head injuries in last year’s Jan. 1 Winter Classic against the Washington Capitals and again four days later against the Tampa Bay Lightning, causing him to miss the rest of the 2010-11 season.

Crosby returned for eight games this season until he was sidelined when concussion-like symptoms returned during a game against Boston on Dec. 5 and he was diagnosed with a soft-tissue injury in his neck.

Former Ranger Sean Avery, 31, announced his retirement two days ago on the reality television show “Watch What Happens Live.” Avery, who played 15 games for New York this season before being sent to its minor-league affiliate, had 247 points and 1,533 penalty minutes in his 10-year NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Rangers and Dallas Stars.

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