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HURRICANES (7-17-5) at DEVILS (20-7-1)
Last 10 -- Carolina 4-5-1; New Jersey 6-3-1
Season series -- The earlier meeting between the teams on Oct. 17 turned out to be an epic showdown between New Jersey's Martin Brodeur (26 saves) and Carolina's Cam Ward (27 saves). Jamie Langenbrunner scored 26 seconds into the third period, Zach Parise hit the empty net and Brodeur notched shutout No. 102 in a 2-0 victory. Ward, who has missed the last 13 games with a deep leg laceration suffered Nov. 7 against Columbus, is close to 100 percent and could start against the Devils.
Big story -- Brodeur will be looking to make history. He stopped all 22 shots he faced Monday night to post career shutout No. 103 in a 3-0 blanking of the Buffalo Sabres. It was Brodeur's second shutout this season and the second of his career against the Sabres. He now needs one more to establish a career NHL shutout record -- he's currently tied with Hall of Fame goaltender Terry Sawchuk, who amassed 103 shutouts in 971 career games for the Red Wings, Bruins, Maple Leafs, Kings and Rangers. The month of December has been very kind to Brodeur, having accrued a personal-best 23 shutouts in the month during his career.
"I think it's paying attention to details in the game," Brodeur said. "I work really hard to do the right things to be ready for a game, mentally and physically. I don't take anything for granted. I don't think I'm better than anybody. When I go out there I just play as hard as I can and do the best I can. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't."
Devils -- New Jersey, in the middle of a stretch of 10 of 12 games at home, is without question one of the hottest teams in the League -- the Devils have won six of their last seven overall and eight of their last nine at Prudential Center, where they began the season with two losses and a 1-4 mark after five home games. The game against the 'Canes marks the first of five straight at home for New Jersey before heading to Atlanta Dec. 19.
Hurricanes -- The road hadn't been kind to the Hurricanes this season until Monday when the team opened a three-goal lead before earning a 3-2 victory at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. It was Carolina's first victory away from home during the regular season since a 2-1 win in New Jersey last March 28 in its next-to-last road game of last season. The 'Canes are now 1-10-3 away from RBC Center this season. Goalie Manny Legace stopped 30 shots and Ray Whitney scored the decisive goal and added an assist.
"It's sad that it's taken so long. What is it, Dec. 7?" Whitney said. "It's something to build on. Certainly we're not sipping champagne by any means, but it's a starting point."
Said Carolina coach Paul Maurice, "This team has worked hard the last five weeks but has had a whole lot of nothing to show for it, so it's nice to get the win."Who's hot -- Langenbrunner has a five-game points-streak (2 goals, 4 assists) and has 5 goals and 17 points in the last 14 games. Center Travis Zajac has notched 3 goals and 12 points over the last 12 games.
Injury report -- Carolina defenseman Joe Corvo (leg laceration) is out, but Ward (leg laceration), who hasn't played since Nov. 7, could make his return. For the Devils, defenseman Paul Martin (arm) and forwards Dainius Zubrus (leg) and David Clarkson (leg) are still out.
Stat pack -- The Devils, who started the season with two losses, are 20-5-1 since. The club's 20-7-1 record marks the organization's best start ever through 28 games.
Puck drop -- It'll be interesting to see if Ward can give it a go. He'd be way ahead of schedule if he does get the nod against the Devils -- he was expected to be sidelined another month. The 'Canes will go with Legace as Ward's backup if and when the former Conn Smythe Trophy-winner returns between the pipes.