RALEIGH -- Kirk Muller was mad. At least, as mad as Muller will show publicly.
After the Canes' 4-1 loss Thursday the New Jersey Devils, Muller had some strong comments about his team.
"I'm not so much concerned about scoring as how we play. I'm disappointed tonight," Muller said. "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.
"This is adversity for us. Now let's see how we handle it."
Martin Brodeur was back in goal for the Devils. He also had the first goal for the Devils, which says a lot about how the game went for the Devils and the Canes.
The Canes are a team that seems to be losing games and losing its way. They now are winless in their past five games.
Brodeur, making his first start since Feb. 21, was credited with a power-play goal for the Devils (14-11-6) in the first period after the Canes' Jordan Staal banked a pass off the boards, down the ice and into an empty Carolina net. The unusual score came on a delayed penalty against the Devils, as Canes goalie Dan Ellis had vacated the net.
Adam Henrique and Peter Harrold scored for the Devils in the second period as New Jersey took a 3-0 lead, and Andrei Loktionov had a late goal in the third.
The Canes got a power-play goal from Jeff Skinner in the third to trim the lead to 3-1 but Carolina couldn't mount a comeback. Skinner scored his 10th of the season and first in six games on a knuckling shot from the right wing that Brodeur couldn't track.
Ellis left the game in the final minute and was bleeding. Muller had not update on Ellis' injury, or the one to defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti, after the game.
Brodeur, 40, had been out for 24 days because of back pain and numbness in his left arm. After weathering a busy first period -- the Canes had 11 shots -- he settled in and was hardly tested in earning career victory No. 665.
The Hurricanes (15-13-2) had forward Tuomo Ruutu in the lineup for the first time this season. Ruutu, who underwent hip surgery in December, was used mostly on the fourth line but did get in four hits in his 14:20 of ice time.
The Canes came out with jump to start the game, only to have Brodeur's power-play goal give the Devils a 1-0 lead about four minutes into the first.
After the Canes' Alex Semin was called for cross-checking at 3:33, the Devils had the the game's first power play. But the Canes' Pat Dwyer then a shorthanded chance, drawing a hooking penalty on Marek Zidlicky as he drove the net. Brodeur knocked the puck into the right corner, where it was played by Jordan Staal.
Staal's pass from the Canes' offensive zone bounced off the side boards and perfectly angled into a net vacated by Dan Ellis for an own goal.
Brodeur was credited with the goal as the last Devils player to touch the puck. It was his second career regular-season goal and he became the first NHL goalie to score a power-play goal since Evgeni Nabokov in 2002 according to Elias Sports Bureau.
The Devils then surged to a 3-0 lead in the second on goals by Adam Henrique and Peter Harrold as the Canes offense stalled. Both goals came on hard work in front of Ellis.
Brodeur's goal was a stunner -- both for the Canes and the PNC Arena crowd.
The Canes scored a similar goal on Dec. 26, 2011, last season against the Devils at PNC Arena. Cam Ward was credited with an empty net goal when Ilya Kovalchuk sent a pass sailing the length of the ice and into the New Jersey net when the Devils pulled the goalie for an extra attacker.
The Canes outshot the Devils 11-4 in the first. After the Brodeur goal, the Canes fired shot after shot at Brodeur in a torrid sequence but could not score.
The Devils shut down the Canes in the second period, limiting them to three shots. The Canes could not maneuver through the neutral zone and could not maintain possession long enough in the offensive zone to put any heat on Brodeur.
Defenseman Brett Bellemore, recalled Wednesday from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL, made his NHL debut for the Hurricanes and may be needed. Defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti left in the third period with an upper-body injury.