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Devils at Hurricanes preview

Carolina hopes to clinch playoff berth; New Jersey seeks fourth win in six games

by Kurt Dusterberg / Correspondent

DEVILS (30-40-10) at HURRICANES (44-29-7)



The Game

The Carolina Hurricanes hope to clinch their first berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2009 when they play the New Jersey Devils at PNC Arena on Thursday.

The Hurricanes, who lead the Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens by one point for the first wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference, would clinch with a win and a Montreal loss of any kind at the Washington Capitals. Carolina also would secure a spot with a shootout win and a Montreal loss in regulation.

Goalie Petr Mrazek will start for the Hurricanes, who are 13-6-1 in the past 20 games. Mrazek is 11-3-0 with a 1.71 goals-against average, a .941 save percentage and three shutouts in his past 14 starts.

The Devils, who have been eliminated from playoff contention, are 3-1-1 in the past five games after going 2-9-1 in the previous 12.


Players to watch

Devils goalie Cory Schneider is 6-5-1 with a 1.92 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage in 13 games against the Hurricanes.

Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho has five points, all assists, in his past 12 games after he had 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in his previous 13.


They said it

"This is one where we're going to take a lot of stock into it. You're playing against a team that is fighting for a wild-card spot. Let's see [how we play] tonight when there's no time and space, and you're playing a team that's dialed in and looking for the postseason. This is one of those games we can make a strong player evaluation." -- Devils coach John Hynes

"It's a big game obviously, but it's just another game where we have to do the right things. We've done the work as a coaching staff. You just kind of open the door and now it's up to them." -- Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour


Devils projected lineup

Kenny Agostino -- Nico Hischier -- Blake Coleman

Miles Wood -- Travis Zajac -- Joey Anderson

Drew Stafford -- Pavel Zacha -- Michael McLeod

Stefan Noesen -- Kevin Rooney -- Nathan Bastian

Andy Greene -- Damon Severson

Mirco Mueller -- Connor Carrick

Will Butcher -- Steven Santini

Cory Schneider

Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratched: Egor Yakovlev

Injured: Jesper Bratt (lower body), Taylor Hall (lower body), Sami Vatanen (illness), Kurtis Gabriel (upper body), Kyle Palmieri (lower body)


Hurricanes projected lineup

Nino Niederreiter -- Sebastian Aho -- Justin Williams

Micheal Ferland -- Jordan Staal -- Teuvo Teravainen

Andrei Svechnikov -- Lucas Wallmark -- Jordan Martinook

Brock McGinn -- Greg McKegg -- Warren Foegele

Jaccob Slavin -- Dougie Hamilton

Brett Pesce -- Justin Faulk

Haydn Fleury -- Trevor van Riemsdyk

Petr Mrazek

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Saku Maenalanen

Injured: Calvin de Haan (upper body)


Status report

Schneider is making his final start of the season. Blackwood will play in the season finale at the Florida Panthers on Saturday. … Mrazek is making consecutive starts after alternating with McElhinney for the past 11 games.


Stat pack

Zacha has six points (one goal, five assists) in his past seven games. Hischier has eight points (two goals, six assists) in six games against Carolina. Noesen has four goals in seven games against Carolina. ... Staal has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his past 10 games. Ferland has not scored a goal in his past 15 games.

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