RALEIGH, N.C. – Dainius Zubrus scored goals in the first and third periods and the surging New Jersey Devils earned their season-best seventh straight victory by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 on Saturday night.
The Devils, who are in a desperate fight to get into playoff contention after a miserable start, are 10 points behind the eighth-place Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference race. New Jersey beat Carolina for the third time in 12 days.
The Hurricanes remained four points ahead of Buffalo and Atlanta.
Henrik Tallinder and Brian Rolston also had first-period goals, and Patrik Elias had three assists for the 13-place Devils (25-30-4), 15-1-2 in their past 18 games. Ilya Kovalchuk added an assist to stretch his point streak to 10 games (7 goals, 5 assists), but his four-game goal streak was snapped.
Patrick Dwyer scored for Carolina in the third period to deny Johan Hedberg a chance at consecutive shutouts on back-to-back nights. Hedberg and the Devils beat the New York Rangers 1-0 at home on Friday.
Hedberg finished with 24 saves after getting another start over Martin Brodeur, who is back on the active roster but serving as the backup as he recovers from a knee injury.
Cam Ward stopped 21 shots, but only 12 of 15 in the first period when the Devils grabbed a 3-0 lead.
Zubrus beat Ward just 1:14 in when he deflected Mark Fayne's hard shot from the right point. Tallinder made it 2-0 on a one-timer from the left point. Kovalchuk earned the primary assist on that goal at 11:17.
Rolston pushed the advantage to three goals when he followed Elias' shot from the right doorstep at 16:14.
Dwyer ended Hedberg's shutout bid at 6:49 of the third when he redirected in Jamie McBain's shot from the high slot. That got Carolina within 3-1, but Zubrus sealed New Jersey's win with 8:17 left by beating Ward over the left shoulder from the right circle.
Notes: Devils C Travis Zajac played in his 378th straight game, 10 shy of former D Ken Daneyko's team record. Devils D Anton Volchenkov earned his 100th career point with a first-period assist. Defenseman Derek Joslin made his Carolina debut. Hurricanes D Joni Pitkanen sat out with an undisclosed lower body injury.