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Devils edge Hurricanes on Schlemko's late goal

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- It might not have been the prettiest goal in the career of defenseman David Schlemko, but it was one the New Jersey Devils desperately needed.

Schlemko scored the go-ahead goal with 3:05 remaining in the third period to give the Devils a 3-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes at Prudential Center on Tuesday.

Schlemko took a pass from Travis Zajac, skated into the left circle and lost his edge along the left wing half-wall before driving a wide-angled shot that banked off Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk and past goaltender Cam Ward with 3:05 remaining to break a 2-2 tie.

"That was the old fake, lose-it play, and then shoot it on net," Zajac said with a grin. "He caught everyone off-guard. It just goes to show you never know. That's why you have to throw pucks on net, because you get those bounces once in a while."

Schlemko struggled to keep a straight face when asked to describe his fourth goal of the season and the second game-winner of his career.

"It was just how we drew it up; put it in the corner and throw it off their guy," Schlemko said. "It was a lucky bounce. But sometimes you need that to find a way to win so we'll take it."

Kyle Palmieri and Bobby Farnham also scored for the Devils (18-14-5), who won for the second time in three games. Goaltender Keith Kinkaid, making his first start in four games, finished with 26 saves to earn his third win of the season.

"It's tough when you sit, but you take that time to work in practice and when he came in, he was sharp and calm in net," Palmieri said of Kinkaid. "He did a good job of stopping their opportunities."

Hurricanes captain Eric Staal scored two goals, his first multiple-goal game of the season, and Ward made 21 saves. The Hurricanes (15-17-5) are 7-4-1 since Dec. 3, including 4-1-1 in their past six road games. Carolina defeated the Devils 3-1 in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday.

"I thought we picked up our game as it went on," Staal said. "We had the lead in the third, but got some unfortunate bounces, some ugly goals. That's how you score nowadays, and they were able to do that."

Palmieri pulled the Devils into a 2-2 tie when a shot from the point by Jon Merrill deflected off his right skate and went past Ward 7:14 into the third period. The goal was challenged by Hurricanes coach Bill Peters, who claimed goalie interference. The goal was upheld following a review and the Hurricanes lost their timeout. The Devils scored two goals on four shots in the third.

"I felt it click off my skate, and then I got hit right after it went in," Palmieri said. "It was a nice shot by [Merrill]. He was getting pucks to the net and that's a key."

Staal scored two goals on two shots in the second to give the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead.

He scored for the first time in 10 games at 2:51 when his slap shot from low in the right circle beat Kinkaid just inside the right post for a 1-0 lead. The Devils tied the game at 6:06 when Farnham, who had missed the previous eight games with a shoulder strain, scored on a wraparound.

"[Staal] has been doing all the little things right and his line had lots of chances," Peters said. "I'm sure they'll continue to score. It's disappointing for sure, but good things happen when you throw it at the net. That's why you preach 'throw it at the net.' "

Staal put Carolina back in front when he scored his seventh of the season at 9:46 by jamming the puck past Kinkaid after gaining possession from behind the goal line. Kris Versteeg assisted on each goal.

"We talked about wanting to get back to our identity, play hard and play for each other," Schlemko said. "We thought our game was al right tonight and we stuck with it."

The Devils play at the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. The Hurricanes open a two-game homestand against the Washington Capitals on Thursday.

"We need to pick up points, wins," Staal said. "It's tight, but I like the way our team is playing. I like the way we've been playing for a month. If we keep doing that, there's over half a season left and we'll get back into the mix sooner rather than later."


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