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Hurricanes-Devils Preview

GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (37-11-4) at New Jersey Devils (27-20-6).

TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

For 13 of his 22 NHL seasons, Scott Stevens was the anchor of the New Jersey Devils defense as he led them to three Stanley Cup championships.

Stevens will become the first Devil to have his number retired as New Jersey meets the Carolina Hurricanes at the Continental Airlines Arena.

"I'm just going to try and enjoy it," said the 41-year-old Stevens, who will see his No. 4 raised to the rafters. "It's a great honor and to be the first Devil to have his number retired, it's definitely exciting."

Drafted fifth overall by the Washington Capitals in 1982, Stevens also played with the St. Louis Blues and New Jersey before a head injury limited him to a single season-low 38 games in 2003-04.

Stevens retired before training camp this season, finishing his career as the NHL's all-time leader for regular-season games (1,635) and playoff games (223) by a defenseman. A 13-time All-Star, he ended his career with 196 goals and 712 assists.

"I'd like to think I was an all-around defenseman that could do a little bit of everything," Stevens said. "Obviously I was a physical player. I guess I'd like to be recognized as a guy that came to play every night."

The future Hall of Famer helped the Devils hoist championships in 1995, 2000 and 2003. He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2000 as playoff MVP.

Stevens also said he felt the need to prove himself each season.

"Every year, I always felt I had to make the team," he said. "I never took anything for granted."

Stevens' number will be joined in the rafters March 24 when the Devils retire Ken Daneyko's No. 3.

New Jersey ended a streak of 2 1/2 games without a goal in emphatic fashion Wednesday as rookie Zach Parise, Grant Marshall and Jamie Langenbrunner all scored in the first period of a 5-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators.

New Jersey, shut out in its previous two games, had not scored in a franchise-record span of 154 minutes, five seconds since Viktor Kozlov's goal at 9:56 of the second period of a 4-0 victory Jan. 24 against the New York Islanders.

The win came despite the failure of the Devils' top line of Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta to record a point.

"That's what you're hoping to get (balanced production) and that's what I think you're looking for," said general manager and interim coach Lou Lamoriello.

Carolina tied an NHL record with its 13th win in January after an 8-2 rout Wednesday of the Montreal Canadiens.

Erik Cole scored three goals and tied a career-high with four points, and Eric Staal added two goals and an assist for the Hurricanes, who have won five in a row.

"One of the comments in the (dressing) room was, 'If we'd only beaten Washington,"' Cole said, referring to a 5-2 road loss on Jan. 21 to the Capitals. "The mentality of the guys is we can win every game, we can play in every game, and if we show up and compete hard within the system, we've got the guys and we've got the character to get it done."

The league-leading Hurricanes have outscored New Jersey 10-2 in two meetings this season and have not taken a season series from the Devils since they were the Hartford Whalers in 1990-91.

STANDINGS (through Feb. 1): Hurricanes - 78 points, 1st place, Southeast Division. Devils - 60 points, 3rd place, 10 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Hurricanes - Staal, 33 goals, 36 assists and 69 points; Mike Commodore, 86 PIM. Devils - Gionta, 29 goals and 50 points; Gomez, 28 assists; Colin White, 55 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 1): Hurricanes - Power play: 20.1 percent (70 for 349), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.5 percent (234 for 287), 18th. Devils - Power play: 17.3 percent (53 for 306), 17th. Penalty killing: 82.2 percent (194 for 236), 16th.

GOALTENDERS: Hurricanes - Martin Gerber (26-8-2, 3 SO, 2.69 GAA); Cam Ward (11-3-2, 0, 3.43). Devils - Martin Brodeur (25-16-4, 4, 2.59); Scott Clemmensen (2-4-2, 0, 3.83).

SEASON SERIES: Hurricanes, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 17; Hurricanes, 4-1. At Raleigh, N.C., Chad Larose and Staal scored 19 seconds apart in the third period for the Hurricanes. Aleksander Suglobov scored his first NHL goal for New Jersey.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 14-7-3 on the road; Devils - 16-7-3 at home.

Associated Press

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