"What I really like in the last six, seven games is that we're a little bit more consistent," new coach Kirk Muller said. "We're not beating ourselves, for the most part, and the points that we have given away are things that we've done. So the last couple games, we've done a better job of that and we've been doing a lot of good things. We're not quite there yet, but I think our confidence level's starting to kick in, everyone's starting to play a higher-tempo game and I think we're skating better to play this type of tempo."
Ward was awarded his first career goal when Ilya Kovalchuk's errant pass for Adam Henrique from the end line wound up going the length of the ice and into an empty net with 29.4 seconds left. Officials initially awarded the goal to Sutter before a postgame review determined he never touched the puck.
"I don't know how to explain it. I should make better decisions that that, definitely," Kovalchuk said. "We find a way to make the game interesting and we were working hard, but a bad decision by me cost us the game."
It was the first goal by a goaltender in the history of the franchise -- including the Hartford Whalers.
"It would have been a lot cooler if I had shot the puck or did something like that," Ward said.
"It was Wardo's. As soon as it went in, I think we all knew it was his," Sutter said. "And then the ref kind of came up to me and asked what happened. He asked who touched it last, and it was (Ward)."
David Clarkson had a goal and an assist for New Jersey. He and Henrique scored in the third period and Johan Hedberg made 30 saves for the Devils, who had won seven of nine.
Clarkson broke up the shutout when he scored with 7:22 left. Henrique then pulled the Devils to 3-2 when he scored with 2:20 remaining before the odd sequence in the final minute.
Ruutu pushed Carolina's lead to 2-0 by scoring his team-leading 13th goal just over 7 minutes into the second. He chipped in a rebound past a sprawled-out Hedberg and into an open net. Stewart then made it a three-goal game 10 minutes later when his wrist shot from the circle got past Hedberg's stick.
That came after Sutter scored the Hurricanes' first goal midway through the first and 23 seconds into a tripping penalty on Ruutu.
Sutter chased down the puck near center ice and skated in on Hedberg before uncorking a wrist shot from the circle that clipped the left pipe on its way in. That gave the Hurricanes their seventh shorthanded goal -- tying them with the Devils for most in the NHL -- and marked the League-worst 11th allowed by New Jersey.
"No one's going to feel sorry for us," Hedberg said. "We've just got to keep plugging away. Tonight, they probably deserved it more than we did."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.
1 - 0 CAR
2 - 0 CAR
3 - 0 CAR
3 - 1 CAR
3 - 2 CAR
4 - 2 CAR
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