Devils keep playoff dream alive, beat Hurricanes
Raleigh, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Dainius Zubrus scored twice and Cory Schneider stopped 26 shots, as the New Jersey Devils extended their point streak to seven games with a 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
Travis Zajac netted what proved to be the game-winner 6:34 into the second, while Schneider turned aside all eight shots he faced in the third for the Devils, who improved to 4-0-3 over their last seven tilts to move within one point of the idle Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
With 84 points, New Jersey sits tied with Toronto, which lost to Winnipeg on Saturday, in the race for the final playoff spot in the East.
Jeff Skinner supplied Carolina's lone goal, while Anton Khudobin allowed two goals on 22 shots for the Hurricanes, who had a two-game win streak halted.
"I don't think we had our legs," Skinner admitted. "We couldn't really generate much, but I think that's just sort of ... we just need to work a little harder."
Just after a high-sticking minor against Michael Ryder expired early in the second, Skinner rifled a shot from the right circle that found iron. Play continued and Ryder ripped one off the crossbar at the other end, but the referees got together to review the play at the next stoppage.
Video review clearly showed Skinner's shot hit the back bar in the net, resulting in a good goal that tied the game 4:50 into the middle stanza.
However, the Devils answered just 1:44 later when Marek Zidlicky wristed a shot from the high slot that Zajac redirected in front. The puck hit the post after touching Zajac's stick, but it took a strange carom in the crease before bouncing across the goal line for a 2-1 lead at 6:34.
Carolina failed to capitalize on a power play late in the second and came up empty on another man-advantage midway through the third, as Schneider stood tall to maintain New Jersey's slim edge.
Khudobin left the Carolina cage in favor of the extra attacker following a timeout with 1:51 left, but Zubrus buried an empty-netter with 37.6 ticks left to account for the final margin.
"It was nice for (Zubrus)," Devils head coach Peter DeBoer said of Zubrus scoring twice. "He works hard every night and doesn't get rewarded a lot."
Zubrus opened the scoring late in the first frame when he flipped a backhander past Khudobin following a Carolina turnover in the neutral zone.
Carolina sits six points back of the Blue Jackets for the second wild-card spot with just four games remaining ... The Hurricanes dropped to 18-16-6 at home this season ... Carolina went 0-for-4 on the power play ... New Jersey improved to 14-18-8 on the road this season ... Skinner matched his career high with his 31st goal of the season.
04/05 23:00:55 ET