The New Jersey Devils have won all three of their road games, but they've curiously come up empty at home -- particularly during a third-period breakdown in their latest loss.
That disheartening defeat, however, had nothing on what happened the last time they hosted the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Devils look to put an end to their winless home start Saturday night against the Hurricanes, who visit Newark for the first time since scoring two late goals to shock New Jersey in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
New Jersey (3-3-0) lost to Atlantic Division rivals Philadelphia and the New York Rangers at home to open the season, but bounced back by sweeping a three-game road trip against Southeast foes.
The Devils couldn't keep that success going Friday. Atlanta scored three times in the third period -- including a short-handed goal -- to break a 1-all tie and hand New Jersey a 4-2 loss.
"I don't know that it's anything different we're doing, it's just three games we're not playing well at home," said left wing Zach Parise, who scored his second goal of the season. "We played three good games on the road."
Including the playoffs, New Jersey was 30-14-1 at home in its first season at the Prudential Center in 2008-09. While the Devils are 0-3-0 there so far, their home slide stretches to four when counting their stunning exit from last season's playoffs.
On April 28, New Jersey led the Hurricanes (2-3-1) by one with 1:30 left in the third period of Game 7, but Martin Brodeur gave up goals to Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal 48 seconds apart to turn a near-certain victory into a heartbreaking 4-3 loss.
Staal had five goals and two assists to help Carolina advance. He also tied teammates Chad LaRose (two goals, five assists) and Ray Whitney (three goals, four assists) for the series scoring lead.
It's Whitney who's leading the Hurricanes with three goals so far this season after scoring two Wednesday against Pittsburgh -- the team that ultimately eliminated them in the Eastern Conference finals. Despite Whitney's efforts, the Penguins again got the best of Carolina, this time winning 3-2 in a shootout.
Coach Paul Maurice, though, was encouraged by the Hurricanes' progress -- especially considering they bounced back from a two-goal deficit in the third period.
"Tonight I think was really our first game where I thought we got back to looking like the team that plays the style of game we want to play," he said. "We're almost there. There are still some improvements that we're looking for, but there's a lot more that the players understand."
Carolina also may get a big boost on the blue line against the Devils if Joni Pitkanen can return. The veteran, who led all Hurricanes defensemen with 26 assists last season, practiced Thursday and Friday after missing five games with a knee injury.
Brodeur is 9-2-1 with a 1.73 goals-against average and two shutouts in his last 12 regular-season games against Carolina, but the Hurricanes' Cam Ward is 4-0-0 with a 1.49 GAA in his last four regular-season starts versus New Jersey.