RALEIGH — Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller had just seen his team lose 4-1 Thursday to the New Jersey Devils.
He had seen his team score the first goal of the game -- for the Devils, on a strange power-play goal credited to New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur.
He had seen his team put 11 shots on net in the first 10 minutes of the game, testing Brodeur, then muster just 7 the rest of the game.
It all added up to a fifth straight loss overall and a third straight loss at home in PNC Arena for the Canes. And it was all Muller could take.
After an extended postgame talk to his team, Muller said, "I'm not so much concerned about scoring as how we play. I'm disappointed tonight.
"It's time we don't piggyback off some of the guys who have been playing well all year. We need more effort from some guys. ...I think it's unfair for some guys who are pushing every night. I think it's slowly catching up to us. We're not going to accept it. Everyone has to come ready to start pulling their weight here."
The Hurricanes (15-13-2) do not play again until Tuesday, when they face the Winnipeg Jets at PNC Arena. That's four days to reflect, make changes. Primarily, to work.
They'll also know more about the status of goalie Dan Ellis and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti. Both left the game with injuries -- Ellis suffering a cut with less than a minute to play in regulation.
To be sure, the start of Thursday's game was a bit disheartening for the Hurricanes. Carolina had forward Tuomo Ruutu back in the lineup for the first time this season -- Ruutu undergoing hip surgery in December -- and had a lot of jump, only to have the Devils take a 1-0 lead on a stunning play.
The Devils were on a power play when New Jersey defenseman Marek Zidlicky hooked the Canes' Patrick Dwyer as Dwyer drove the net on a shorthanded try. On the delayed penalty against New Jersey, almost four minutes into the game, Brodeur swatted the puck to the corner as Ellis vacated the net at the Carolina end.
But Jordan Staal's attempted pass to defenseman Tim Gleason at the point sailed past Gleason. The puck bounced off the boards and angled perfectly down the ice and into the empty net.
"i was just tried to make the good, hard play and it kind of froze (Gleason)," Staal said. "And after that ..."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Brodeur became the first goalie since Evgeni Nabokov in 2002 to score a power-play goal. It was Brodeur's second career regular-season goal.
The Canes pushed back after the fluky score, peppering Brodeur with shots to energize the crowd of 16,941. Then, very little. At least from the Canes, who had three shots in the second and six in the third.
Jeff Skinner scored a power-play goal for the Canes in the third period on a hard knuckling shot from the right wing. But the Devils (14-11-6) had a 3-0 lead by then as Adam Henrique and Peter Harrold scored second-period goals.
Andrei Loktionov added the final goal for the Devils, who had Brodeur back in net for the first time since Feb. 21.
Brodeur, 40, had been sidelined with back pain and numbness in his left arm. Still, career victory No. 665 came relatively easily for him.
But the Hurricanes had more to worry about than the return of a future Hall of Famer.
"It wasn't our best, it wasn't good hockey," Jordan Staal said. "We've got to find a way to better. Everyone in the room has got more, including myself.
"It's playoff hockey and I think we've got to get that drive back in our game of finding ways to win games."
Skinner, who had six of Carolina's 18 shots, said the Canes need "a little more battle, a little more compete level."
Muller said his players will find it soon -- or else.
"It's playoff hockey now," he said. "Everything's harder and you've got to earn your space. We've got work to do and things to fix.
"It's not systematic at all. We're not going to accept it. You've got to work ... and if you do you get your ice time."