RALEIGH, N.C. -- Justin Faulk has always played with skill in the offensive zone. This season, he has taken it upon himself to make it show up on the stat sheet.
"I'm trying to shoot the puck a little bit more," said Faulk, whose hard slap shot helped the Carolina Hurricanes defeat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 at PNC Arena on Saturday. "I've always been considered a goal scorer in (the U.S. Development Program) and college. It's a cliche saying, but you can't score if you don't shoot."
With his 15th goal, Faulk set Carolina's franchise record for points in a season by a defenseman with 47. He had been tied with Joni Pitkanen (2009-10).
"He's a young guy coming into his own," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "He's got a heavy, heavy shot. You see guys getting in a lane and all of a sudden that opens up guys off to the flanks on power plays. It's something we want to continue to feature."
Cam Ward made 21 save for his 20th win of the season. Carolina (28-36-10) has won two straight.
New Jersey (31-32-12) has lost four in a row.
The Devils connected on their first power-play shot to open a 1-0 lead in the first period. Mike Cammalleri held in Hurricanes defenseman Ron Hainsey's clearing attempt and sent a wrist shot toward the net, where Patrik Elias re-directed it past Ward at 11:12 for his 11th of the season. It was his first goal since Feb. 20.
Carolina had two first-period power plays prior to New Jersey's man advantage, and had two shots. The Hurricanes had a third power play that carried over into the second period.
"Not a lot going on at times, but that's just the way it is when you play against them," Peters said. "They're above you a lot in the neutral zone and they stay tight in the defensive zone. You've got to be willing to fight through traffic, and when there is a play to be made, you better capitalize on it."
The Hurricanes found that play late in the second, tying the game 1-1 on Jeff Skinner's cross-ice pass to Chris Terry at 18:33. Terry kicked the puck to his stick and shot high to the far post as Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid overplayed the shot to the near side.
Carolina took a 2-1 lead nine seconds after the opening faceoff of the third period. Kinkaid mishandled Ryan Murphy's long shot from the boards with his blocker, leaving a rebound at the top of the crease for Staal to tap in. It was his 21st goal.
"I would have taken a few more of those earlier in the year," Staal said. "I was able to get a jump on their d-man and catch him off guard."
The go-ahead goal caught the attention of Peters, more for the setup than the finish.
"A real subtle play by Murphy, skating it down the wall then passing it off the goaltender's pads," Peters said. "We talk about that all the time. You're not scoring from there so try to create a rebound."
Carolina's second-period goal, followed by the quick strike early in the third proved to be the Devils' undoing.
"We gave up a late goal and we gave up a quick goal, then we just couldn't dig our way out of it," New Jersey co-coach Lou Lamoriello said. "We had chances to score in the first period, but we didn't take advantage of it."
Faulk then gave the Hurricanes some breathing room with a shot from inside the blue line at 4:58.
"He's had a great season altogether," Staal said. "Once you gain that confidence to get pucks to the net, you're able to capitalize. He obviously has a very hard shot and he's only going to get better."
After scoring five goals in each of the past two seasons, Faulk has tripled that output. Before the season, he made a conscious decision to shoot more and defer less.
"I just thought it would be better to shoot pucks and get them to the net, as opposed to throwing it around the boards," said Faulk, who began the game tied for fifth among defenseman with 207 shots. "Even if I miss wide, there's always a chance for a tip."