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Hurricanes meet Devils in battle of division’s top teams

Jan 3, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Carolina Hurricanes center Martin Necas (88) and New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) battle along the boards during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Now it’s the Carolina Hurricanes who are trying to get back on track.

It’s not as if they have deviated that far, but more than a week has passed since they’ve won a game; they’ve lost three in a row overall.

The New Jersey Devils, who seem to be snapping out of a funk, will be the opposition for the Hurricanes on Tuesday night at Raleigh, N.C.

“We’ve got to get it all together and play a full 60,” Hurricanes forward Martin Necas said. “Try to reset and go back and try to play our game. There’s no secrets, really.”

Carolina and New Jersey are the top two teams in the Metropolitan Division. This meeting will mark the midway mark in the regular season for both teams.

This also will be the third Devils-Hurricanes meeting in about a three-week period. The Hurricanes won 4-1 at home on Dec. 20 and prevailed 5-4 in a shootout at New Jersey on Jan. 1.

The Devils have won three of their past five games, with one of the setbacks to Carolina.

“We’re kind of finding some traction,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’re getting some people back, and we’d like to build off that. We know it’s a heck of a battle. It’s like a 40-game playoff series going on right now between five or six teams.”

The Hurricanes followed a franchise-record 11-game winning streak with their three consecutive losses (0-2-1). But it hasn’t all been a downer for Carolina, which tallied a franchise-record 67 shots on goal in a loss to Nashville on Thursday and gained a team point Saturday in a shootout loss at Columbus.

“The guys know they definitely created enough chances to win (the past two games), and their goalies played phenomenal in two games,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.

Hurricanes forward Max Pacioretty scored twice in the Columbus game in just his second contest of the season after August surgery for a torn Achilles.

“Good for him to get on the board,” Brind’Amour said. “Hopefully, he’ll have many, many more.”

The Hurricanes are far from in a panic mode.

“We’re a confident group and with short-term memory,” defenseman Brady Skjei said. “We know if we play the way that we’re supposed to play and generate that many shots, we’re going to win a lot of hockey games.”

In its most recent game, New Jersey beat the New York Rangers 4-3 in overtime Saturday.

“Every game, every point, every period matters,” Devils forward Jesper Bratt said with the team rallying against the Rangers. “We know we have the skill and type of team to come back in these games.”

New Jersey has received a jolt of offense from center Jack Hughes, who has eight goals in the past five games.

Tuesday will mark the start of New Jersey’s five-game trip. The next four contests will be on the West Coast.

“I’m extremely proud of our road record,” Ruff said. “We’ve been a good road team. We know our next game is a really good opponent. We’re staring at Carolina. We know that our road game is something we’ve had a lot of success with, and we’d like to continue that.”

–Field Level Media