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Red-hot Devils set to host Hurricanes

by Mike G. Morreale

HURRICANES (6-4-1) at DEVILS (8-1-3)


Last 10: Carolina 6-3-1, New Jersey 6-1-3

Season series: This is the first of two meetings this season. The Devils will travel to Raleigh on March 21. New Jersey won all three meetings last season, including a 5-0 verdict in the season finale in March when Martin Brodeur made 22 saves and Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists.

Big story: The Devils have won five straight, including back-to-back triumphs over the Pittsburgh Penguins over the weekend, and are now in first place in the Eastern Conference with 19 points -- with two games in hand on the second place and Northeast Division-leading Boston Bruins. It marks the most points by a Devils team through the first 12 games in team history since 1993-94 (9-3-0, 18 points). The Hurricanes, 3-1-1 on their six-game road swing that concludes against the Devils, have supplanted the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Southeast Division, while moving into third overall in the East.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes: Carolina's 6-4 victory over the New York Islanders on Monday catapulted the Hurricanes from ninth to third in the Eastern Conference standings. The Hurricanes rallied from a 3-2 deficit with four third-period goals against the Islanders. Jiri Tlusty, Alexander Semin and Eric Staal scored goals in the opening 9:09 of the third to give the Hurricanes a 5-3 advantage. Semin's goal was the 200th of his career. Tlusty had two goals and four points, Semin finished with three points and Cam Ward stopped 24 shots for Carolina.

Devils: Their sweep of Pittsburgh in the home-and-home series over the weekend was New Jersey's first since Nov. 11-12, 2005 against the Washington Capitals (4-3 at Washington, 3-2 in New Jersey). Martin Brodeur made 24 saves in a 3-1 victory in Newark on Saturday and Johan Hedberg halted 23 shots on Sunday in a 3-1 decision in Pittsburgh. Hedberg is 8-0-2 in his last 10 starts dating back to Jan. 11, 2012 at Edmonton. In the victory on Sunday, David Clarkson scored a pair of goals and has a team-leading nine for the season.

Who's hot: Devils center Adam Henrique has a five-game point-scoring streak, during which he's produced three goals and five points. … Carolina captain Eric Staal has recorded a point in nine consecutive games (eight goals, six assists) and Jeff Skinner has a five-game point-scoring streak (two goals, five assists).

Injury report: Devils forward Dainius Zubrus (upper body) has missed three straight games. … The Hurricanes are without forward Tuomo Ruutu (hip) until at least April.

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