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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, December 9th (All times eastern)

Carolina Hurricanes (7-17-5) at New Jersey Devils (20-7-1), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes will try to win three in a row for the first time this season when they visit the Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey Devils for tonight's battle at Prudential Center.

The Hurricanes, who are last in the Southeast Division and NHL with just 19 points, are coming off consecutive victories over Vancouver and Pittsburgh. The brief winning streak comes on the heels of a five-game slide and marks just the third time this year that Carolina has won back-to-back contests.

The 'Canes could receive a boost in the quest for their third straight win as goaltender Cam Ward should be back on the ice tonight after he was activated from injured reserve on Tuesday. Ward, who is expected to start tonight, has been sidelined since November 7, when the skate of Columbus forward Rick Nash cut the goaltender on his upper thigh.

As a result of Ward's activation the Hurricanes also waived goaltender Michael Leighton, leaving Manny Legace as the backup netminder.

Ward is 2-9-3 with a 2.97 goals-against average in 15 games this season. He is 5-5-1 in 11 career regular-season starts against the Devils.

Carolina recorded a home win over Vancouver on Saturday and then kicked off a four-game road trip with Monday's win in Pittsburgh. The victory over the Penguins was the first road win of the year for the 'Canes, who are just 1-10-3 as the visiting club this year. It also ended the longest road skid to begin a season in franchise history.

Ray Whitney recorded a goal and an assist while Legace was strong with 30 saves to lead the Hurricanes to the 3-2 triumph at Mellon Arena.

Jussi Jokinen and Andrew Alberts also scored for Carolina, which tallied the first three goals of the game, but had to hold on for the close win. Joni Pitkanen and Eric Staal both notched two assists in the victory.

"We weathered their storm -- you know they'll keep coming at you," said Legace. "They're so talented and so well-coached. We were lucky to get out of here with a win."

The Hurricanes will complete the road trip with games in Washington and Ottawa on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

The Devils, who are tied with Pittsburgh atop the Atlantic standings, have won three straight and six of their last seven games. New Jersey posted a shutout victory in Buffalo on Monday and goaltender Martin Brodeur made NHL history in the process.

Brodeur stopped all 22 shots he faced to record the 103rd shutout of his legendary career, tying him with Hall-of-Famer Terry Sawchuk for the NHL's all-time record. Brodeur, who is already the winningest goaltender in league history with 575 victories, has two shutouts on the year and can claim the record for his own the next time he blanks an opponent.

"Ho-hum, another record," joked New Jersey Brian Rolston about his goaltender. "Marty's the best goaltender to ever play the game -- it seems like every year he breaks another record."

Rolston, Travis Zajac and Niclas Bergfors each scored once for the Devils, who have 14 wins over their last 18 games (14-3-1).

Devils defenseman Mike Mottau missed the last game with flu-like symptoms and is questionable for tonight's test.

Tonight marks the start of a five-game homestand for New Jersey, which is 9-5-0 as the host this year.

New Jersey recorded a 2-0 home win when it hosted the Hurricanes on October 17 and has taken 10 of the last 15 regular-season meetings, although Carolina ousted the Devils in a seven-game series during the opening round of last year's playoffs. The Hurricanes have dropped four of five and six of their last eight non-playoff tests in New Jersey.

12/09 11:01:45 ET


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