Devils inch closer on Saturday night

They are getting closer.

The New Jersey Devils did exactly what they needed to do on Friday and Saturday night: win.

Once 27 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Devils closed to within 10 points of the Carolina Hurricanes after beating them, 4-1, in Raleigh, N.C.

New Jersey, which has won a season-high seven games, has given up just eight goals during that stretch.

Dainus Zubrus had two goals for the Devils, while Patrik Elias had three assists. Johan Hedberg made 24 saves. He's now 6-0 in his last six starts.

With an assist, Ilya Kovalchuk extended his point-streak to a season-high 10 consecutive games.

Ideally, the Devils would've liked to enter Tuesday night's game in Dallas against the Stars trailing the Canes by just eight points. But Carolina beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2, on Friday night to put those hopes to rest.

Still, with 23 games remaining, the Devils (15-1-2 in their last 18) are right in the thick of it. Earlier in the week, we pointed out how big these last two games were. And, just as they have been ever since the second half began, the Devils were up to the task.

The rest of the teams in the NHL should take notice, because the Devils are on a mission. And no one seems to be able to stop them.

Not even interim coach Jacques Lemaire, who keeps saying that an inevitable dip was coming.

It just hasn't come yet. And hopefully for Devils' fans, it won't come during the final three games of the team's four-game road trip.