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Carolina gets just enough vs. Brodeur

1/21/2004

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- After struggling through the first
half of the season, Jeff O'Neill has regained the scoring touch.

A revitalized O'Neill scored his fifth goal in four games late
in the second period to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 2-1 win over
the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

"I'm glad you called it a scoring run," O'Neill said after
getting his second game winner in four games. "The first half of
the season couldn't have been worse. The puck is finally going over
the goal line."

O'Neill, who had five goals in his first 44 games, even got a
little unlucky in the final seconds. He slid a shot into an empty
net just after the final buzzer.

Josef Vasicek also scored and Kevin Weekes made 20 saves as the
Hurricanes snapped a two-game losing streak and won for only the
second time in seven games (2-4-1).

"This shows what happens when we show up and work hard at the
start," O'Neill added. "When we stink out the joint in the first
period, it greatly decreases our chances."

Jeff Friesen scored for New Jersey, which also got a stellar
21-save performance from Martin Brodeur in his first appearance in
three games. The two-game rest was the longest for Brodeur since he
missed two games with the flu in the 1997-98 season.

"A little luck here or there and it could have been our side,"
Brodeur said after the Devils had a three-game (2-0-1) unbeaten
streak snapped. "We had a lot of opportunities, but they played
well defensively."

O'Neill scored his 10th of the season with 1:55 left in the
second period. He took a pass from Pavel Brendl in the slot and
snapped a shot past Brodeur.

"It was a play from the corner and Whitey [defenseman Colin White] was caught in the middle," Brodeur said. "It went right
through his legs. I was in good position, but it didn't hit me."

After failing to score in the opening 32 minutes, the teams
traded goals in a 21-second span in the second period.

Vasicek opened the scoring at 12:26 by taking a cross-ice pass
from Ron Francis and hitting a virtually open net for his 13th
goal.

Friesen and Sergei Brylin didn't waste any time in tying it.
Brylin set up the goal by carrying the puck into the Carolina zone
and making the nice pass that Friesen directed into an open net.

Neither Brodeur nor Weekes had a chance on either goal.

Weekes made tough saves on Patrik Elias and Friesen early in the
third period, but the Devils didn't threaten much after that.

Game notes
Devils C Igor Larionov was a healthy scratch just a day
after being benched for part of Tuesday's win over Pittsburgh. ...
New Jersey is 1-for-20 on the power play in the last seven games,
including 0-for-2 on Wednesday. ... RW Justin Williams got his
first point for the Hurricanes on Vasicek's goal. He was acquired
in a trade with Philadelphia on Tuesday.