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Samsonov's second goal lifts Carolina past New Jersey 2-1 in OT

RALEIGH, N.C. - Carolina never seemed to catch any breaks when playing the New Jersey Devils - that is, until one of the newest Hurricanes made it his mission to change that.

Sergei Samsonov scored two goals, tapping in his own rebound 1:36 into overtime to lift Carolina past the Devils 2-1 on Tuesday night and break their five-game winning streak.

The Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes won their third straight, halted a long losing streak in the series and avoided being swept by New Jersey for the first time in 16 years.

"It was a good measuring stick for us," Samsonov said. "We got beat, three games in a row, pretty bad. It was in the back of our minds, no doubt. It was an important game just to prove to ourselves that we can match against anybody."

Samsonov's winner came after he streaked down the boards to chase down a pass from Scott Walker, threw the puck toward Martin Brodeur and then slipped the rebound past the goalie's stick for his fifth goal in eight games.

"The puck was kind of bobbling a little bit. I just figured I'd take a shot and see what happens," Samsonov said. "I went to the net, and luckily it just bounced to my stick. It's nice to get those bounces once in a while."

He has nine goals and nine assists in 22 games since Carolina acquired him on re-entry waivers from Chicago on Jan. 8. His 15 career goals against the Devils are the most for any active player on Carolina's roster.

Brian Gionta scored for New Jersey, which remained atop the Atlantic Division by picking up a point for the ninth straight game. The Devils are 7-0-2 in their last nine.

Brodeur - who entered 8-2-0 with a 1.64 goals-against average in his last nine games against Carolina - made 34 saves, including 12 in a furious third period for the Devils in which the Hurricanes kept the pressure on by regularly preventing New Jersey from clearing the puck.

"In the third, for whatever reason, they turned it up a notch, and they were on us a lot," Brodeur said. "Not that they got tons of great chances - they did get some good chances, but the 'D' allowed a lot of possession, and that's draining when you're playing on your heels like that."

Cam Ward turned aside 23 shots for Carolina, which entered having been simply dominated by New Jersey. The Devils entered having won the last four in the series and were 9-2-0 against them in regular season games since 2002. The Hurricanes hadn't scored multiple goals in any of this season's previous three meetings, having been outscored 15-3.

"They played a lot better game - that's the bottom line," New Jersey captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. "That's a different team than we've seen in the first three games. They played like the Carolina team we know. They were playing hard, they put a lot of good things out there, they were aggressive, and we didn't come with the same desperation they did. And it showed."

The Devils took a 1-0 lead early in the second period when Gionta skated down the right side and centred a pass that clicked off Carolina defenceman Bret Hedican's stick and into the net. Samsonov tied it four minutes later when he poked the rebound of Keith Aucoin's wrist shot past Brodeur.

Carolina centre Tuomo Ruutu, acquired earlier in the day from Chicago for Andrew Ladd, arrived at the RBC Center about 15 minutes before the opening faceoff. On his second shift, he delivered a hard check to Colin White in the corner, setting the tone for a physical first period that produced no goals but several fights of varying degrees of violence.

"The coaching staff has got us playing the way that we know we're capable of playing," Ward said. "We're a physical team now, and that might be something we didn't have before. Definitely, teams are recognizing that we can be physical, too."

Notes: Ruutu had an assist in his first game with the Hurricanes, but wound up with a bloodied face after he was clipped by New Jersey LW Patrik Elias' stick. Team officials said about 40 stitches were needed to close the wound. ... RW Patrick Eaves also made his Carolina debut, starting on the Matt Cullen-Samsonov line that has been one of the team's most productive of late. ... Devils C John Madden's three-game scoring streak ended.



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