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Babchuk propels Hurricanes past Devils

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) -- The New Jersey Devils can be

excused for this lackluster effort against the Carolina

Hurricanes.

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

Carolina.

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.

"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.

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