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newjerseydevils.com – The Devils have won three of their last four to climb to the top of the Atlantic Division. They look to continue that trend when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at Prudential Center this afternoon for a Presidents' Day matinee (1 p.m., MSG, WFAN 660 AM).
New Jersey notched an important victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night at Scotiabank Place. Arron Asham collected his first two-goal game as a Devil, while Martin Brodeur made a season-high 37 saves in the 3-2 win.
"Ash has responded," head coach Brent Sutter said. "If he's finishing and getting involved it gives him opportunities to get the puck to shoot. He's got a great shot and he hasn't shot the puck enough. Sometimes he gets cute and tries to make the perfect play and gets off track. He just needs to go hard up and down his wing."
With the victory, the Devils (33-21-5) moved into sole possession of first place and closed to within two points of the Eastern Conference-leading Senators. Pittsburgh rejoined New Jersey atop the division with a win over Buffalo on Sunday.
The Devils will try to cool the streaking Hurricanes today. The Hurricanes have won four of five, but the lone defeat over that span was a 6-1 loss in New Jersey on Feb. 9.
Carolina has dropped seven of eight against the Devils and has been outscored 10-2 in losing both meetings this season. The Southeast Division leaders have won three straight, including Saturday's 5-4 decision over Florida.
Hurricanes' captain Rod Brind'Amour tore a ligament in his left knee in Thursday's 4-2 win over Pittsburgh and is expected to miss at least four months. He is likely out for the rest of the regular season, and the best-case scenario would have him rejoining the team late in the playoffs.
The Hurricanes (30-27-4) won Thursday despite Brind'Amour playing only 54 seconds, and they came from behind to beat Florida 5-4 on Saturday in their first full game without him. Eric Staal, Trevor Letowski and Ray Whitney all scored in the third period to help Carolina bounce back from a two-goal third-period deficit.
The Hurricanes have won three straight for the first time since Oct. 9-13. They haven't won four in a row since a five-game run Dec. 16-26, 2006.
The winner of the Southeast could be the only team in the division to reach the postseason - Atlanta and Washington are tied for 10th place in the Eastern Conference.with wire services