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New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur makes a blocker save during the second period of Wednesday's 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. ((Bill Kostroun/Associated Press))

Martin Brodeur stopped 19 of 20 shots as the New Jersey Devils beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series Wednesday night.

"I think today was a good example of how I feel we're capable of playing," Brodeur said. "I like the way we came out with good energy, and the crowd was great."

Playing in front of a hometown crowd in Newark, N.J., Brodeur was gunning for his 23rd career playoff shutout, which would have tied Patrick Roy's NHL record. But Ray Whitney spoiled his bid, scoring the Hurricanes' only goal midway through the third period.

Just 29 seconds after Whitney scored, Jamie Langenbrunner converted a pass from Zach Parise on a four-on-two rush to restore the Devils' three-goal lead.

"Great job by Paul [Martin] driving to the middle," Langenbrunner said. "Zach [Parise] gave me a good pass, and I knew where I wanted to go with [the shot]."

New Jersey controlled the play for most of the game, pinning the Hurricanes in their own zone on several occasions.

"It's step one," Parise said. "The effort was there from everybody. It was a good way for us to start."

Parise and Langenbrunner led the Devils offensively, each notching a goal and an assist. Parise scored the winner in the first minute of the second period, beating Carolina goalie Cam Ward with a wrist shot along the ice.

Mike Mottau and Patrick Elias also scored for the Devils, who peppered Ward with a constant barrage of shots all night. New Jersey outshot Carolina 39-19. 

New Jersey won four of its last five games of the regular season after dropping a season-high six straight.

"Toward the end of the season we were getting back to the way we needed to play," Parise said.

The Hurricanes, who hadn't played a playoff game since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006, know if they don't improve their play in a hurry, it could be a short series.

"I guess you scratch your head a little bit, knowing it's a playoff game," Hurricanes defenceman Tim Gleason said. "It's one of those things: They came ready to play and we fell behind early. [Next game] we have to come in ready to play at the drop of the puck."

"We know we have to have a better effort and, fortunately, there is better hockey in this room," Hurricanes centre Matt Cullen said.

Game 2 is Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET) at the Prudential Center in Newark.

With files from the Canadian Press