RALEIGH, N.C. – Rod Brind’Amour and Sergei Samsonov scored in the second period, and Trevor Letowski added an insurance goal in the third to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

Cam Ward made 34 saves for the Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes, who have won three of four.

Brendan Shanahan scored for the Rangers. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped 24 shots.

New York had won two in a row before the All-Star break.

The first period featured 66 minutes in penalties.

Carolina’s Scott Walker and New York’s Sean Avery received roughing minors before the puck dropped. The Rangers’ Colton Orr and the Hurricanes’ Wade Brookbank fought shortly thereafter.

The physical play boiled over when Walker drove New York’s Scott Gomez into the boards a little over 4 minutes into the game. Avery came after Walker, which started a melee that entangled all 10 players on the ice. Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason was ejected because he was the third man in on the Avery-Walker scrum. Avery received a 10-minute misconduct.

Later in the period, Brookbank and Orr dropped the gloves for a second time.

The rough stuff between the teams wasn’t a complete surprise. In a game in New York on Dec. 26, Orr leveled Carolina’s Matt Cullen with a hit that left Cullen with a concussion. Avery also punched the Hurricanes’ Andrew Ladd while Ladd was being restrained by an official, breaking a bone underneath Ladd’s eye in the process.

Emotions cooled after the first period on Tuesday, benefiting Carolina.

The Rangers had taken advantage of the Hurricanes’ league-worst penalty kill in the first, taking a 1-0 lead when Shanahan beat Ward with a slap shot at the 1:02 mark.

After New York missed on an odd-man opportunity in the second, Ray Whitney skated down the right side on a two on one, faked a shot and then got the puck across to Samsonov, who backhanded it past a sliding Lundqvist.

Following a turnover by New York’s Martin Straka at the Carolina blue line just over 2 minutes later, Brind’Amour went the other way on a two on one. He used Samsonov as a decoy before shifting the puck to his backhand to beat Lundqvist.

Letowski put the game out of reach early in the third period, finishing on the rush after a nice pass from Chad LaRose.

Notes: New York is last in the Atlantic Division but entered the night with more points than Carolina. New York D Jason Strudwick took a slap shot off his helmet in the first period. … Carolina D Dennis Seidenberg missed the game with an injured ankle. … New York LW Marcel Hossa (back) didn’t dress. … Carolina had a lengthy two-man advantage in the first period but couldn’t convert.

AP-ES-01-29-08 2155EST

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