RALEIGH, N.C. -- Chris Terry was beginning to wonder if he would ever get the call.
Terry, a fifth-round draft pick by Carolina in 2007, scored 88 goals over his last 3 1/2 seasons in the American Hockey League (second most for the Hurricanes) but had remained in the minors prior to Saturday. But it didn't take him long to score in his NHL debut, part of a three-goal second period that lifted the Hurricanes to a 6-3 win over the slumping New Jersey Devils 6-3.
"He flew his parents and sister in so it was fun to see. It is good memories when you're young like that," coach Kirk Muller said of the 23-year-old left wing who logged 14 minutes. "I was happy with his game and a great effort … and a memorable one for him."
Added Terry, "It was a pretty special moment. That first shift of the game was nice, there was a big crowd, a lot of excitement and I got my legs under me. And I was fortunate enough to find the back of the net in the second. It was kind of a blur for me; I really didn't know what to do when I scored."
In addition to Terry's NHL debut tally, Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty had three-point nights as part of Carolina's red-hot top line. Goalie Dan Ellis returned from the flu and -- despite having an IV between the second and third periods -- stopped 31 shots for the victory.
"It wasn't bad until the middle of the second and I began to lose weight," Ellis said. "I started cramping. I got some fluids in me and it re-energized my legs, and we sure played a great game."
The Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes have won five of six and outscored the opposition 20-9 in their last four home wins. Meanwhile, the Devils are 1-6-1 in their last eight but made it interesting with two goals in the opening 4:21 of the third period to close to 5-3.
"You want to put yourself in a good position," Ellis said of Carolina's division lead at the halfway mark. "I've been on a lot of teams who have been clawing their way into it down the home stretch and that's difficult because that is your playoffs to just get in."
Semin, who has 15 points in his last eight games, had a goal and two assists, while Jiri Tlusty notched his 12th goal during Carolina's second-period offensive outburst, then took the team lead in goals with an empty netter with 1:14 left.
Terry was able to outmuscle New Jersey defenseman Adam Larsson in the slot midway through the second and slapped the puck between the legs of Johan Hedberg, who allowed five goals on 18 shots through two periods.
"That was a goal-scoring goal; that's the hands that he has and the knack that he has," Muller said of Terry.
"I don't think our 5-on-5 play is that bad," said New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer. "I mean we're not scoring, but every mistake we make is magnified because they're going in. You can over-analyze it all you want but that's the truth."
Jeff Skinner added his ninth goal late in the second, a period in which the Canes have now outscored opponents 32-15.
The Canes scored 28 seconds apart in the first period to grab a two-goal lead and never trailed.
Semin was alone in front on the power play after taking a pass from Joe Corvo, and faked out Hedberg once before lifting in a backhander. Defenseman Jay Harrison cleared up a Jordan Staal rebound less than a half-minute later on a rush started by Jussi Jokinen for a 2-0 lead.
"It was nice to jump in," Harrison said. 'We're getting contributions up-and-down the roster, which is great in this shortened season when you have games so close together because it can be hard to rely on one line."
Carolina was looking to add to its lead with a power play just five seconds after the Harrison goal, but Ilya Kovalchuk blocked a Justin Faulk point shot and was off to the races, breaking in alone on Ellis to bury his ninth career shorthanded goal. The Russian added his second of the night 22 seconds into the third period.
NOTES: Devils captain Bryce Salvador missed his first game of the season with an upper body injury. ... Kovalchuk's goal in the first period was New Jersey's league-leading seventh short-handed. ... Carolina left winger Chris Terry played in 290 AHL games before making his NHL debut Saturday night. ... Heading into the game, the Hurricanes were one of three teams yet to participate in a shootout. ... This was the first Devils-Canes game since March 2000 without either Martin Brodeur or Cam Ward in net. Brodeur is out with a sore back and Ward is sidelined six to eight weeks with a knee injury. ... Ellis was back in net after missing the last two games with the flu. ... Ellis' assist on Carolina's third goal was the fourth of his career.