RALEIGH — Try as they might, the Carolina Hurricanes couldn't beat the New York Rangers on Saturday, couldn't keep from losing.
The Hurricanes, playing without injured winger Alexander Semin, fired a season-high 49 shots at Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Even after another nightmarish second period, the Canes kept pushing in the third, finally breaking through on a goal by Zac Dalpe.
The Hurricanes competed. They banged. They won puck battles and showed some spunk, some fight.
But after 60 minutes, the Rangers were the ones celebrating after a 4-1 victory. They were the ones lining up to congratulate Lundqvist, who again showed off some brilliance in net.
"We came ready to play, we came to compete, we came to work," Canes captain Eric Staal said. "We played for each other and we played a good game."
And lost, again.
It was Carolina's fourth straight loss and its 11th in the past 12 games (1-10-1). More so, it was the Canes' seventh consecutive defeat on home ice at PNC Arena, tying the franchise record set in late-December and early January of the 2002-2003 season.
"We put a lot of pucks on net, had a lot of opportunities and competed hard," said Canes winger Jeff Skinner, who had eight shots. "It's tough. There's not much to say. It seems we've said just about everything we can say.
"We just have to stick with it. We've been saying that all along. You've got to stick with it and you've got to believe it's going to pay off and turn around for us."
Talk about an uphill climb. The Hurricanes (16-19-2) now trail the Washington Capitals, the Southeast Division leaders, by six points.
The Rangers (19-15-4), playing a night after a road loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, scored three times in the second period to break it open. Derek Stepan and Rick Nash had power-play goals, and Ryan Callahan scored an easy one after Canes goalie Dan Ellis left the net to play the puck, only to have it stolen along the boards by Nash.
Stepan and Callahan scored 31 seconds apart, stunning the Canes. Nash then struck on the power play with a spinning shot in the slot for a 3-0 lead.
Dalpe, called up Saturday from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL, ripped a shot past Lundqvist from the slot midway through the third period. Skinner and Eric Staal assisted on the goal and the Canes had other chances later in the third with a pair of power plays.
But Lundqvist would have none of it. His 48 saves were a season-best, topping a 40-save game against Boston in February.
"We generated a lot in the first and even in the second I didn't think we came off it too much," Skinner said.
Justin Peters relieved Ellis in net for the third period and the Hurricanes peppered Lundqvist with 21 shots in the period. Unlike the 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday, they didn't go down meekly in the final 20 minutes after falling behind.
The Rangers' final goal came on a last-second empty-netter by Brian Boyle.
"Losing is not fun," Eric Staal said. "It's not fun for anybody to watch and not fun for anybody to play.
"If we start pointing fingers, start blaming things, it's not going to make you a better person or a better player. We're after something bigger here and the type of effort and work ethic we had tonight we can live with. We're not going to accept losing but the effort was there."
Canes coach Kirk Muller said Semin had an upper-body injury and his availability was not known until close to game time. Dalpe was called up, he said, in case Semin couldn't play.
Dalpe made the most of the opportunity, scoring his first NHL goal of the season after being denied on a glove save by Lundqvist late in the second on a similar shot.
"I thought we played with a lot of enthusiasm tonight and played a good hockey game," Muller said. "We get almost 50 shots on net. That's a lot of rubber for a team.
"I don't know what more our guys can do."
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