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Carolina Hurricanes at New Jersey Devils: Devils Face Important Game Against Canes

Several games throughout the season are wrongly labeled as "playoff" games.

Tonight's game between the Carolina Hurricanes (26-21-6) and the New Jersey Devils (19-30-4) isn't one of them.

Looking to keep their slim playoff chances alive, the Devils face an important game tonight against the Hurricanes at the Prudential Center.

New Jersey, 9-1-2 in their last 11 games, currently sit 16 points behind Carolina for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The game marks the first of three meetings in the next 12 days.

The Devils players realized the relative importance of these games.

"I think it is, yeah, but not only because it's Carolina that we have to catch," Johan Hedberg told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "Every team we're playing we need to gain ground on. Every point is going to be huge for us, so we can't afford to lose too many games down the stretch. It is a great chance for us to get back into it. We're going to have to try to break it down to one game at a time and not get too far ahead of ourselves."

"They're all big games," Devils' coach Jacques Lemaire said to Gulitti. "We play these guys three times in a week and a half. Last year, we played Toronto three times in a week and a half. So we've got a lot to work, a lot of work."

The Devils will be without goalie Martin Brodeur for tonight's game. The future Hall-of-Famer injured his right leg during New Jersey's 4-1 win over Montreal Sunday. 

Carolina enters this game stumbling on the road. The Canes have lost four of their last five away from the RBC Center, but defeated the Atlanta Thrashers, 4-3, in a shootout Sunday. Erik Cole continued his outstanding season, netting the game-winner.

The Devils rode their offense in the win over Montreal Sunday. Dainius Zubrus, Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac put New Jersey ahead, 3-0. P.K. Subban cut the deficit to 3-1, but Kovalchuk sealed the deal with an empty-netter in the final period.