Weekes follows the puck in traffic Wednesday versus the Hurricanes.
newjerseydevils.com – With Martin Brodeur's record-setting win barely 24 hours old, the Devils couldn't quite recreate Tuesday's magic Wednesday in Carolina.
Brodeur recorded his 552nd career victory a day earlier to become the winningest goaltender in NHL history, and rested in Raleigh while head coach Brent Sutter turned to backup Kevin Weekes.
Zach Parise scored his team-leading 41st of the season and Brian Gionta notched his 17th, but New Jersey came up short in a 4-2 loss to the Hurricanes. Patrik Elias collected an assist to improve his franchise points mark to 703.
Though the Devils' winning streak was halted at four, they lost for just second time in their last 10 games. Even more remarkable, they fell in regulation for just the fourth time this season when Parise and Elias each record at least one point (31-4-1).
Parise's 13th on the man advantage was one of two New Jersey power-play goals. The Devils' penalty kill, however, gave up three, including two by Anton Babchuk.
"This team has worked extremely hard, and tonight had nothing to do with our work ethic," Sutter said. "Our work ethic was pretty good tonight. Their power play scored three goals on us, and we had mental breakdowns on our PK. It's disappointing to lose a game, but we'll regroup and get right back at it Friday night."
Weekes' first start since Brodeur's return from injury was also his first start since Feb. 19. He put up 28 saves, but saw his personal winning streak halted at five games. New Jersey outshot Carolina, 43-32.
Carolina's Cam Ward picked up his 31st win on the strength of 41 stops. Sergei Samsonov added a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes, who have taken six straight at home.
"It's a tough situation to be in for [Weekes]," Sutter said. "He hasn't played in a while, and we knew what to expect from them – they've been sitting here four days waiting for us. It is what it is. The outcome isn't like I'm shocked by it. When you give up three power-play goals, you're in tough that night."
Since their matchup was the only one of the night involving teams from the East, the Devils (46-21-3) didn't cede any ground in the conference or division. Jersey's Team remains four points behind Boston for the overall top spot, one ahead of Washington for the conference's second seed.
Parise's third goal in five games moved him within seven of Gionta's single-season Devil record (48) with 12 games remaining. The Devils' left wing is one of just two 40-goal scorers this year; Alex Ovechkin, who leads the League with 49, is the other.
Parise stands fifth in scoring, just two points behind Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk. He's still also within striking distance of Elias' single-season club mark (96).
Carolina took a 2-0 lead courtesy of Babchuk and Eric Staal. The Devils were whistled for five minor penalties in the first two periods.
Babchuk controlled a loose puck at the side of the net to beat Weekes with his 10th of the season 9:56 into the contest. Staal's sharp-angle shot from the bottom of the right circle was his 34th and put the Hurricanes ahead by a pair at 1:25 of the second.
New Jersey used a two-man advantage to cut the deficit in half on Parise's marker at 13:22. His shot from the right side of the net banked off of traffic in front and by Ward.
But Babchuk answered with 38 seconds left in the middle frame off a blast from the high slot for his 11th.
Samsonov staked the Hurricanes to a 4-1 edge in the third with his 15th of the season. He took Jussi Jokinen's from the left corner and darted toward the net mouth to score at 12:14.
A power play late in regulation produced New Jersey's second goal. Dainius Zubrus made a diving play to poke the puck away from a Carolina defender in Hurricanes' territory. Gionta pounced on the loose change to spin his third power-play goal of the year between Ward's pads.
The Hurricanes have taken the first two meetings between the teams this season. The Devils host Carolina for two of their five remaining home games on March 28 and April 11.
New Jersey is back in action Friday against Minnesota at Prudential Center.
NJD NOTES Jamie Langenbrunner's points streak (6g-5a) ended at nine games, one shy of Elias' club season-high 10... John Madden appeared in his 700th game... Jay Pandolfo and Colin White (lower body) were scratched.
1 - 0 CAR
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