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Devils, Hurricanes jockey for positioning in division

by Mike G. Morreale /

HURRICANES (9-10-5) at DEVILS (9-10-5)


Last 10: Carolina 5-3-2; New Jersey 6-3-1

Season series: It's the first of four meetings between the teams. The Carolina Hurricanes won two of three matchups last season but the New Jersey Devils earned a 4-1 win in the most recent meeting.

Big story: The Devils and Hurricanes play twice in a span of three days beginning Wednesday in Newark and concluding Friday in Raleigh, N.C. The teams are even in the Metropolitan Division standings with 23 points. Carolina snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday and the Devils dropped a 3-1 decision to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.

"You just want to keep building now. We've got a lot of good things going right now and the important thing is the consistency factor," Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward said.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes: Carolina erased a 1-0 deficit against Ottawa with three goals in the second period at PNC Arena. Eric Staal had three points, including an empty-net goal, and defenseman Justin Faulk had two assists to end a nine-game point drought. Rookie Elias Lindholm, Tuomo Ruutu and Patrick Dwyer scored the goals in the second. Ward stopped 35 shots to earn his first win since missing 10 games with a lower-body injury.

"It's nice that the guys are finally getting results. We've played some tough opponents lately, and we've been grinding it out," coach Kirk Muller said. "It's been difficult to get some goals, but finally things looked like they were ticking and falling into place. A lot of good things in our hockey game [Sunday]."

Forward Kevin Westgarth will miss both games of the home-and-home due to a suspension.

Devils: New Jersey has points in seven of its past 10 games but has struggled to score goals, connecting for four in its past three games (1-2-0). Goalie Martin Brodeur has lost two in a row after five straight wins. Cory Schneider might earn the start against the Hurricanes. Schneider, who made a season-high 34 saves on Thursday in a 2-1 overtime victory against the Los Angeles Kings, has allowed just one goal in each of his past three starts (1-1-1) and is fourth in the NHL with a 1.87 goals-against average.

"We've obviously got to score," coach Peter DeBoer said. "We scored one goal in San Jose [in a 2-1 loss on Saturday] and we scored one goal [on Monday]. As nice as it sounds, you're not going to win a lot of games 1-0 in this League. I thought we generated enough chances to score two or three. We just didn't put them in the back of the net. More traffic, we've got to get a power-play goal on some of the opportunities we had, the 2-on-1s. We just have to keep chipping away."

The Devils finished 0-for-2 with the man advantage against the Jets.

Who's hot: Carolina captain Eric Staal has a six-game point streak (three goals, five assists). ... Patrik Elias has scored in consecutive games for New Jersey and has two goals and five points in six games since being activated from injured reserve on Nov. 15.

Injury report: Hurricanes forward Alexander Semin (concussion) and goalie Anton Khudobin (lower body) are on injured reserve. ... Forward Stephen Gionta (ankle) was placed on IR. Defensemen Adam Larsson (lower body) and Anton Volchenkov (lower body) are out for the Devils. Defenseman Bryce Salvador (fractured foot), and forward Ryane Clowe (concussion) are doubtful.

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