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Canes Fall to Upcoming First Round Playoff Foe, 3-2

The Carolina Hurricanes dropped their final regular season game to the New Jersey Devils earlier today by a score of 3-2.   Later in the evening, the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Montreal Canadiens, putting them ahead of the Hurricanes in the standings.  With the Flyers also winning today, the loss put the Canes into sixth place, meaning that their opening round opponent will be the New Jersey Devils. 

We will examine the upcoming series in detail a bit later, but for now here is a brief review of the game.

The Devils opened the scoring when goalie Michael Leighton went behind the net to gather a puck which was sent along the boards.  But instead of the puck traveling behind the goal as usual, it took a weird bounce right in front and David Clarkson was there to easily tuck the puck in the net.

About four minutes later, Anton Babchuk tied the score with his patented blast from the point on the powerplay.  The Hurricanes looked good with the man advantage all game long, scoring twice on four opportunities. 

Later in the opening period, Leighton again was victimized by an unusual bounce as the puck once again failed to run along the boards with him standing behind the net.  This time Zach Parise picked up the loose change and put the puck in the wide open net.  Both goals for the Devils required little or no effort, but the Canes did not give up.

After a scoreless second period, Anton Babchuk would once again light the lamp with another blast during a powerplay.  The youngster from Kiev led all Carolina defensemen this season with 16 goals. 

Both teams battled throughout the third period until once again Leighton went behind the net to play the puck, this time taking it before Tim Gleason had a chance to gather it.   Brian Gionta took the puck along the boards and found Dainius Zubrus, who had beaten Rod Brind'Amour to the front of the net, and he put it past Leighton for the game winner. 

The Canes finished the season with a two game losing streak, after winning nine in a row.  Can they turn things around against a familiar playoff foe?