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Devils dominate Canes, clinch playoff berth

Ilya Kovalchuk

New Jersey Devils’ Ilya Kovalchuk, of Russia, reacts after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012, in Newark, N.J. The Devils won 4-3 in an overtime shootout. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)


The Carolina Hurricanes have bedeviled the New Jersey Devils in two fairly recent playoff series, so they served as a solid team for New Jersey to clinch a berth against. The Devils beat the Hurricanes 5-0 to reach that mark - and help Martin Brodeur earn the 119th shutout of his future Hall of Fame career.

As he has done for much of this season, Ilya Kovalchuk lead the Devils. He scored his 34th goal of the season and added two assists, including a helper on David Clarkson’s game-winner.

The Devils are just about certain to fall into the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, thus making them the foil for whoever wins the Southeast Division. That could be a friendly matchup for New Jersey since the “third seed” isn’t likely to be stronger than them - at least on paper.

Making the playoffs is a big step after failing to do so this season, but they might need a deep run to continue to stride in the right direction - and perhaps keep Zach Parise from leaving.