Devils, Hurricanes clash in key Eastern Conference battle

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Updated: March 21, 2013

A couple of playoff-hopeful teams in desperate need of a
win will meet Thursday night in Raleigh, as the Carolina Hurricanes welcome
the New Jersey Devils for an important Eastern Conference clash at PNC Arena.

The Devils and Hurricanes enter Thursday locked in a three-way tie for the
seventh seed in the East. Carolina and New Jersey have 32 points on the
season, as do the New York Rangers, who are hosting the Florida Panthers on
Thursday.

After losing a pair of regulation decisions against Carolina this season, the
Devils will get one last chance to beat the Hurricanes in this third and final
scheduled encounter of the campaign.

Although Carolina has won three of the past four meetings, the Devils still
have six victories in the last nine encounters overall. However, New Jersey
hasn’t fared well recently in the Tar Heel State, losing seven of 10 at PNC
Arena.

Both Carolina and Jersey will try to halt losing streaks on Thursday. The
Devils enter this contest on a three-game skid (0-2-1) and the ‘Canes are
0-3-1 during a season-worst four-game slide.

Each team lost on Tuesday, but the Hurricanes suffered the more disturbing
setback of the two, dropping a 4-1 home decision against the league-worst
Panthers. Jacob Markstrom made 33 saves and the Panthers scored all of their
goals in the third period to earn just their eighth win in 30 games this
season.

Dan Ellis’ 40 saves went for naught as the Hurricanes went 0-for-3 on the
power play. Jordan Staal spoiled Markstrom’s shutout bid with 2:33 left in the
game, but the damage had already been done.

“They outworked us, that’s all it comes down to,” said Ellis. “They created
havoc and they executed.”

Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk suffered a sprained knee ligament in the loss
and will be out for the next 2-to-4 weeks. Faulk is leading the Hurricanes in
ice time this season and is also second among the club’s defensemen with 10
points.

The Hurricanes, who are two points behind the Southeast Division-leading
Winnipeg Jets, haven’t lost five in a row since an 0-6-1 losing streak from
Nov. 23-Dec. 6 of last season.

Carolina is 7-7-0 on home ice this season and the Devils are 4-6-4 as the
guest.