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'CANES LOOK TO CLIMB IN STANDINGS AGAINST AILING DEVILS

by Staff Writer / Carolina Hurricanes
TODAY’S GAME
CAROLINA HURRICANES
vs.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
FEBRUARY 23, 2001 7:00 p.m.
TV - HTS / FOX SPORTS NET
RADIO - HURRICANES RADIO NETWORK
RALEIGH (FEB. 23, 2001) -- No bones about it -- the New Jersey Devils are one of the elite organizations in the National Hockey League.

New Jersey skates into the Entertainment and Sports Arena tonight at 7 p.m. to faceoff against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Devils are 29-16-12-3 on the season, rank fourth in the Eastern Conference playoff race and are just five points out of first place.

The Hurricanes recently overtook the eighth playoff position in the conference and have played well this season against top-ranked conference opponents.

Carolina’s first home match-up with the Devils this season fell on Oct. 27 and resulted in a 3-3 tie. The game was the Hurricanes' first sell-out of the 2000-01 season and broke a three-game Carolina losing streak.

On Nov. 18 the Hurricanes visited New Jersey’s Continental Airlines Arena and fell to the Devils in overtime, 3-2. Still, Carolina earned a point in the standings against one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams.

The teams have split their match-ups in Raleigh going 1-1-1 in the three match-ups. New Jersey was Carolina’s first opponent in its new home on Oct. 27, 1999, a 4-2 Devils win. The Hurricanes repaid the favor on Jan. 28, 2000 beating the eventual Stanley Cup Champions 4-3.

Tonight the Hurricanes will face a different New Jersey team than they faced earlier in the season. Most notably, the Devils will be without wingers Petr Sykora (bruised shoulder) and Alexander Mogilny (bruised abdomen) and centermen Scott Gomez (back), Jason Arnott (back) and Sergei Brylin (knee) all of whom are on the Injured Reserve List. New Jersey recalled forwards Stanislav Gron and Mike Jefferson from their American Hockey League affiliate Albany River Rats to fill the gaps.

“We will face a little different team with the exact same system,” said Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice. “They will bring the same scoring and grit. It will be a tough game.”

The Hurricanes have a chance to pull three points ahead of the ninth-place Boston Bruins and climb to within four points of the seventh place Toronto Maple Leafs with a win tonight. Boston plays at Dallas tonight at 8:30 p.m. Carolina’s leading goal scorer Jeff O’Neill said that he and his teammates must focus on winning their games.

“We can’t pay attention to what Boston or the other teams are doing,” said O’Neill. “We have to focus on winning our games every night.”

The Hurricanes will faceoff against the Southeast Division leading Washington Capitals Saturday night at the Entertainment and Sports Arena at 7 p.m. Washington leads the Hurricanes in the standings by nine points and hosts Montreal tonight at 7 p.m. at MCI Center.

NOTES: Hurricanes wingman Jeff O’Neill celebrates his 25th birthday today… Carolina defenseman Niclas Wallin (Feb. 20, 1975) and winger Rob DiMaio (Feb. 19, 1968) also celebrated birthdays this week.

Carolina Hurricanes Website Reporter Kyle S. Hanlin can be reached at kyleh@carolinahurricanes.com

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