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By SCOTT GARBARINI
The Carolina Hurricanes hope a chance to rest allowed a sputtering offense the opportunity to recapture its prior form.
The New Jersey Devils look to keep breaking out of their scoring slump with another big offensive performance against the Hurricanes on Saturday night in Raleigh.
An offense that had been lethargic nearing the holiday break came to life in the Devils' most recent outing, as Kyle Palmieri, Jordin Tootoo and David Schlemko scored within a 2:12 span during the first period of Tuesday's 4-3 victory at Detroit. New Jersey (17-13-5) had managed five goals over its prior five outings and lost its previous three.
"We got off to a good start and took advantage of some opportunities," coach John Hynes said.
The Devils matched a season high in goals in a 5-1 rout of the Hurricanes on Dec. 3 at PNC Arena and are 6-1-1 in the past eight meetings. They've outscored Carolina 20-9 in winning five of six in Raleigh.
New Jersey's Mike Cammalleri recorded two goals and an assist in the previous meeting but has just one goal in his last eight games. Adam Henrique has 13 goals but none in the past six games with only one assist.
Carolina's offense got rolling following that defeat to New Jersey, averaging 4.3 goals while going 4-1-1 over its next six. The Hurricanes, however, scored just three over their last three games before a five-day holiday break and lost two of them.
Jeff Skinner led that six-game surge with nine goals, including two hat tricks, but has no points over the last three. He owns 10 goals in 18 career games against the Devils.
Carolina (13-16-5) has relied heavily on a power play that's gone 10 for 30 since last facing New Jersey. The Hurricanes, though, failed to score on three power-play chances and on many other good scoring opportunities in Monday's 2-1 loss to Eastern Conference-leading Washington, finishing with 32 shots.
"We get about three or four chances that bounce just wide," said Kris Versteeg, who scored Carolina's lone goal. "That sometimes is the way of the game. We've got a really good team, a young team, and guys are experiencing new situations at a high level. It's going to happen."
While the Hurricanes have had trouble scoring goals, Cam Ward has done a better job of preventing them lately. The veteran netminder has yielded four over his last three starts, an encouraging sign for a team that ranks last in the NHL with an .887 save percentage.
Eddie Lack made just 22 saves in the Dec. 3 loss to the Devils and has allowed four goals in each of his last two outings.
Keith Kincaid had a sharp 30 saves in the teams' last matchup, though Hynes is expected to start workhorse Cory Schneider, who has allowed two goals or less in 20 of his 29 starts.
Schneider owns a 4-1-1 record and 1.65 goals-against average in six starts against Carolina and has allowed four goals in winning three straight at PNC Arena.
The teams also face off in New Jersey on Tuesday night, with the Hurricanes visiting Chicago on Saturday in between.
Updated December 25, 2015