RALEIGH, N.C. - Dainus Zubrus scored two goals and the New Jersey Devils beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Saturday night.
Travis Zajac scored the go-ahead goal on a deflection in the second period to help the Devils earn a point in their seventh straight game.
They improved to 4-0-3 during a stretch that has given their playoff chances a significant boost.
Jeff Skinner scored for Carolina, which had its two-game winning streak snapped. The Hurricanes had kept their faint playoff hopes alive by earning points in their previous five games.
Cory Schneider stopped 26 shots for the Devils, including all eight he faced in the third period of his second straight victory.
Anton Khudobin made 20 saves in his first loss since March 25.
New Jersey won the season series 3-1.
A strange goal initially credited to Marek Zidlicky at 6:34 of the second turned out to be the game-winner.
Zidlicky's shot from between the circles had some english on it as it hit the left post, and it spun in the blue paint behind Khudobin before curving across the goal line. It was later determined that the puck clicked off Zajac on its way toward the net.
When the Hurricanes couldn't tie it during the final 13 1/2 minutes of the period, the Devils could just about count on a victory: They improved to 22-1-5 when leading after two periods while the Hurricanes fell to 4-24-4 when trailing after 40 minutes.
Zubrus then iced it with an empty-netter with 37.6 seconds left.
Both teams entered on the outside of the playoff picture, though the Devils had a significantly better chance to crack the East's field of eight.
New Jersey entered with 82 points ??? three behind Columbus, which holds the second wild-card spot in the East, and three ahead of the Hurricanes, who were coming off consecutive 4-1 wins over playoff-calibre teams Pittsburgh and Dallas.
Zubrus put the Devils up 1-0 with 4:27 left in the first when he took a feed from Michael Ryder near the blue line, skated in on Khudobin and beat him with a slick backhand.
Skinner tied it 5:31 into the second ??? with a little help from the video-review crew.
His high, knuckling shot from the right circle appeared to hit the crossbar. A review showed the shot actually hit the camera inside the net ??? giving him his career-high-tying 31st goal.
NOTES: Carolina RW Alexander Semin was back after missing two games with an undisclosed illness. ... New Jersey RW Tuomo Ruutu had an assist in his first game in Raleigh since he was dealt to the Devils at the deadline by the Hurricanes.
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