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Carolina Hurricanes vs. New Jersey Devils @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (2-2-0) at New Jersey Devils (2-2-0).

TIME: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EDT.

Carolina center Eric Staal didn't waste any time shaking off the rust from the NHL's one-year layoff.

Staal looks to turn in another strong offensive performance when the Hurricanes visit the New Jersey Devils.

Staal scored his fifth goal of the season and added his first three assists Wednesday in the Hurricanes' 7-2 win over Washington.

"Right now, when he gets the puck, he's tough to handle," coach Peter Laviolette said.

Staal, the second overall pick in the 2003 draft, has scored at least one goal in each of his first four games this season. He had 11 goals and 20 assists in 81 games in 2003-04.

"The way I'm playing right now, I'm coming with a lot of speed, the puck's flying for me and I'm going to keep it going as long as I can," he said.

Captain Rod Brind'Amour added his first goal of the season, and Bret Hedican, Erik Cole, Justin Williams and Niklas Nordgren also scored for Carolina, which registered three power-play goals after going 0-for-15 with the man-advantage in its first three games. Before Staal's goal, the Hurricanes had failed to score on 17 straight power-play chances.

"We had been doing some good things on the power play, and when you don't see the results, it can be frustrating," Laviolette said. "Again, we got it in, moved it around, had scoring chances, got to the front of the net, rebounds, and that's what you need to do."

Rookie goaltender Cam Ward made 26 saves, improving to 2-1 even though his team scored on its own net for the second straight game.

"Any time your team produces, it makes it a lot easier on me, eases the pressure a bit," Ward said. "We know we have the skill to score a bunch of goals."

Carolina has yet to win on the road this season while New Jersey is undefeated at home.

The Devils are coming off Thursday's 4-1 road loss to the New York Rangers.

Brian Gionta scored the lone goal and Martin Brodeur gave up two goals in a span of 17 seconds in the first period.

"Letting in that first goal gave them some wind and it set it us back," Brodeur said. "On the next shift they scored another one to put us behind the 8-ball."

New Jersey has outscored opponents 8-3 in two home games this season.

STANDINGS: Hurricanes - 4 points, 3rd place (tied), 2 PB, Southeast Division. Devils - 4 points, 2nd place (tied), 2 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Hurricanes - Staal, 5 goals and 8 points; four tied with 3 assists; four tied with 6 PIM. Devils - Gionta, 3 goals; Paul Martin, 4 assists; Gionta and Martin, 4 points; Jamie Langenbrunner, 10 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 13): Hurricanes - Power play: 13.6 percent (3 for 22), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.3 percent (20 for 24), 18th. Devils - Power play: 19.2 percent (5 for 26), 12th (tied). Penalty killing: 90.9 percent (30 for 33), 5th.

GOALTENDERS: Hurricanes - Ward (2-1-0, 2.36 GAA); Martin Gerber (0-1-0, 6.00). Devils -Brodeur (2-2-0, 2.96); Scott Clemmensen (no record).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Devils, 3-1-0.

LAST MEETING: March 6, 2004; Devils, 4-1. At Raleigh, N.C., John Madden had a goal and an assist and Brodeur made 25 saves.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 0-2-0 on the road; Devils - 2-0-0 at home.

Associated Press

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