NEWARK, N.J. — Sometimes, a close loss is tougher to handle, accept and digest than a blowout loss.
So it was Tuesday for the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canes did a number of things right against the New Jersey Devils. But not enough to win.
The Devils, getting a vintage game in net from Martin Brodeur and a late goal from Adam Henrique, topped the Canes 3-2 at the Prudential Center.
"We came out the way we wanted and played a good road game," Hurricanes' Brandon Sutter said. "I think we did some of the things you need to do to win. I think it's pretty clear things aren't going our way right now."
Henrique scored with 3:19 left in regulation, beating goalie Cam Ward with a wraparound, for the winner.
It was the fourth goal in three games for Henrique, a 21-year-old rookie, and handed the Canes (5-7-3) their third straight loss.
Sutter's shorthanded goal in the first period gave the Canes a 1-0 lead.
The Devils (7-5-1) tied it on Dainius Zubrus' goal midway through the second, and Petr Sykora's quick shot and goal, after a faceoff win in the Carolina zone, pushed New Jersey ahead 2-1 early in the third.
Joni Pitkanen's centering pass glanced off a skate and past Brodeur to tie it 2-2 at 6:06 of the third.
After troubling losses to the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars at home, the Canes were determined to come into "The Rock" and put an immediate end to the losing streak.
"We came off a really disappointing effort (against Dallas) and came back and fought back a lot harder," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. "But you really wanted a win in here to put that one to rest and end the streak."
On the Devils' first power play, midway through the first period, Sutter charged after a loose puck that Patrik Elias couldn't handle at the point, roared down and blasted a shot past Brodeur.
It was Sutter's second shorthanded goal of the season and was an energizer for the Hurricanes, who finished off a strong first period marred only by three penalties.
The Canes appeared to catch a break in the opening moments of the second period. Sykora ripped a power-play shot, the puck denting iron all around Ward's head but staying out.
Six minutes into the second, Eric Staal and Chad LaRose were off on a two-on-one and LaRose was looking at an open net.
But Brodeur, cagey as ever, barreled over to get his pads on LaRose's shot and prevent the Canes from taking a 2-0 lead.
"In the second period we got a little loopy with the puck and we started turning pucks over again," said Maurice. "We're just not comfortable in that tight game, and obviously we've got some guys struggling on offense."
The game then began to tilt the Devils' way. They hemmed the Canes into the Carolina zone, creating offensive chances.
Finally, the Devils broke through. Zubrus redirected an Anton Volchenkov shot with a chopping motion, the puck skidding past Ward.
Ward protested that Zubrus' stick was high and the play was reviewed for several minutes. But the goal stood and the score was tied at 10:56 of the second.
"I think it was a strong effort. We came to play. We responded. We did a lot of the things we wanted to do and gave ourselves a chance at the end of the game," said defenseman Jay Harrison. "It just missed and that's frustrating because you put so much into it."
Sykora's goal could have deflated the Canes, who stumbled badly in the third period against the Caps and Stars.
But Pitkanen's goal, with assists from Jamie McBain and Zach Boychuk, made for a tight finish.
The Devils played without forward Ilya Kovalchuk, who missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.
McBain was back in the Canes' lineup after the defenseman was a healthy scratch Sunday against the Stars. Forward Zac Dalpe, recalled Monday from the Checkers of the AHL, also played his first game for the Canes since a lower-body injury Oct. 14.
"I think we played a very good game and we don't have anything to show for it," Pitkanen said. "That's really disheartening."