"We grinded it away, and Marty [Biron] made some key saves at some real important times of the game when we had some struggles," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "It was one of his better games, bouncing back after a couple of games where it has been a little bit of a fight for him."
One of the key stretches for Biron came late when the Rangers had to kill 6 minutes of penalties. Carolina peppered him with 10 shots in the final period.
"We were able to kill off some big penalties, especially that 4-minute PK," Biron said. "That was a huge stand for us to do that. That was the game for us to keep them off the board."
Gaborik reached the 30-goal mark for the seventh time in his NHL career. He gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead with 5:07 left in the second period when he poked the puck in at the left post after it sailed high and landed in the crease.
"It feels nice, but we still have a lot of games left," Gaborik said. "I want to put up some more goals. We have a tough stretch coming up with a lot of games in March. Hopefully we'll get healthy and keep plugging away."
Artem Anisimov also scored for the Rangers (41-15-6), who have a nine-point lead in the East. New York has 21 home wins and 20 road wins this season.
The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead on Jeff Skinner's power-play goal 58 seconds into the second period. Anisimov tied it with a rising slap shot that beat goalie Cam Ward on the glove side at 8:21.
Following Gaborik's goal, Brandon Prust made it 3-1 at 1:57 of the third when he finished off a 2-on-1 break with Brian Boyle.
"There's a reason why they're on top," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "They just go and roll along and play good. Our guys knew it was going to be that kind of game. We fell short but we pushed. They make it difficult to play against."
In other games:
* At Boston, David Krejci completed his second career hat trick at 2:59 of overtime to give the Bruins a 4-3 victory over New Jersey that finished their first season sweep of the Devils since 1985-86. Tyler Seguin also scored for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who opened a three-point lead over second-place Ottawa in the Northeast Division.
* At Denver, Nikita Nikitin scored a power-play goal in the first period and Fedor Tyutin added another goal as the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked the Avalanche, 2-0, behind Steve Mason's 33 saves.
* At Montreal, David Desharnais scored in regulation and in a shootout as the Canadiens pulled out a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild, despite blowing a three-goal lead in the third period.
* At Glendale, Ariz., Olli Jokinen capped Calgary's three-goal outburst in the first period and the Flames defeated the Phoenix Coyotes, 4-2. The loss was the first for Phoenix at home since falling to Anaheim in late January, and ended a Coyotes run of 11-0-1 in the last 12 games.
* At Winnipeg, Evander Kane had two goals and two assists and Ondrej Pavelec made 33 saves as the Jets routed the Florida Panthers, 7-0.
* At Vancouver, Alex Burrows scored early in the third period to break the stalemate and Roberto Luongo made 29 saves in the Canucks' 2-0 win over the St. Louis Blues.
Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson says he's not sure when he'll return to the ice after badly cutting his finger while preparing a meal last week. Anderson required surgery to repair a severed tendon in the pinky on his right hand and said he's still unable to hold a stick. Anderson wouldn't reveal any details about the incident that led to the injury.