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Devils host 'Canes in clash of playoff hopefuls
(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of teams trying to claw their way into the Eastern Conference playoff picture meet tonight in New Jersey, as the Devils welcome the Carolina Hurricanes for a battle at Prudential Center.
New Jersey enters Saturday four points behind Detroit for the last playoff spot in the East, while the Hurricanes are four points behind the Devils.
After beating the Red Wings by a 4-2 score Tuesday night on home ice, the Devils were handed a 7-4 setback in Friday's rematch in Detroit.
The Devils overcame an early 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead midway through the second period, but Detroit scored the game's next five goals to take control of the contest at Joe Louis Arena.
Adam Henrique scored twice while Patrik Elias and Jaromir Jagr also scored for the Devils, who had won three of four coming into the game. Cory Schneider gave up all seven goals on 32 shots.
"We got up for a bit and battled back, but they were opportunistic and we didn't do enough to win the game, that's the bottom line," said New Jersey head coach Peter DeBoer.
The Devils will turn to Martin Brodeur in net on Saturday, as the veteran netminder tries to record a third straight winning decision.
New Jersey and the Hurricanes are meeting for the third of four scheduled contests this season. The clubs have split the first two encounters of 2013-14, with each team picking up a road win.
All told, New Jersey has taken two of three and eight of the last 12 tilts in this series, but Carolina has claimed the last two road encounters following a seven-game slide in the Garden State.
Carolina also played on Friday night and was handed a 4-2 home loss by the New York Rangers. It was the sixth loss in seven games for the Hurricanes, who were coming off Tuesday's 3-2 overtime triumph in San Jose.
The 'Canes grabbed a 2-1 lead with 7:53 left in the third period on a goal by Jeff Skinner, but Rick Nash tied the game just 1:17 later and Derek Stepan added the game-winner for the Rangers with 2:46 remaining. Carl Hagelin added the empty-netter in the final minute to seal the victory for New York.
"To have a lead that late, you've got to be able to hold that off and win the hockey game and we didn't do it," said Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller.
Anton Khudobin was terrific for the Hurricanes in the loss, stopping 40 of the 43 shots sent his way. Jordan Staal also scored in the setback.
Carolina defenseman John-Michael Liles left the game with an upper-body injury and is questionable for tonight.
The Hurricanes enter Saturday's meeting against the Devils with a 12-14-4 record as the road team this season. New Jersey has won three of its last four in the Garden State and is 15-8-7 as the host.
03/08 11:10:47 ET