Babchuk propels Hurricanes past Devils

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — The New Jersey Devils can be
excused for this lackluster effort against the Carolina

They have been surging since Martin Brodeur returned from an
elbow injury and chased down the NHL record for wins by a
goalie. One night after he broke Patrick Roy’s career mark by
winning his 552nd game, New Jersey was done in by playoff-hungry

The Hurricanes, who had four days off since returning from a
winless three-game road trip, pounced on New Jersey. Anton
Babchuk scored twice, Eric Staal got his team-high 34th goal and
Sergei Samsonov added one in a 4-2 victory Wednesday night over
the Brodeur-less Devils.

Carolina began a three-game homestand and ended the Devils’
four-game winning streak. The Hurricanes have won a season-high
six in a row at home.

New Jersey played without Brodeur, who set the wins record
Tuesday night by beating Chicago. It was the first time Brodeur
missed a start in 10 games since returning from an elbow injury
on Feb. 26.

Kevin Weekes made 28 saves in place of Brodeur.

“It’s been a week where it’s been a high emotional week and for
all the right reasons,” Devils coach Brent Sutter said. “We’ll
regroup and get back at it. We knew what to expect. They’d been
sitting for four days waiting for us.

“The outcome isn’t like shocking because when you give up three
power-plays goals, it’s a tough night.”

The Hurricanes, who have 81 points, moved into a tie with
Montreal for seventh place in the Eastern Conference – three
points above ninth-place Florida and the postseason cutoff.

Carolina went 3-for-5 on the power play against the Devils, who
are among the best penalty-killers on the road. New Jersey,
which is second in the East, allowed three man-advantage goals
in a game for only the second time this season.

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“It was a game where 5-on-5 we played well and yet it was a
night where you needed your special teams to be good,” Sutter
said. “Our PK got three power-play goals on us.”

Babchuk, who notched his first multi-goal game of the season,
opened the scoring 10 minutes in with a poke at the right post
after Weekes was unable to control a pair of rebounds. Staal
gave Carolina a 2-0 lead 1:25 into the second period with a
sharp-angle slap shot from the bottom of the right circle.

“We got to do a better job (on the penalty kill),” New Jersey
forward Patrik Elias said. “They have a lot of skills on the
power play but we have to be better.”

Zach Parise scored New Jersey’s first goal when the Devils were
on a 5-on-3 man-advantage with 6:38 left in the second period.

But Babchuk restored Carolina’s two-goal cushion with 38 seconds
left in the second period when he blasted a low slap shot
through traffic from the top of the slot.

“I’ve been playing more lately and trying to take advantage of
it,” Babchuk said. “I knew they played last night and thought
they would be more tired.”

Samsonov made it 4-1 with 7:46 left in the third, and Brian
Gionta scored with 2:17 left in the game to bring the Devils
back within two goals.

Weekes got his first start since Feb. 19 and saw his first
action since March 7 in relief of Brodeur. Carolina’s Cam Ward,
making his 19th straight start, stopped 41 shots.