With 15 games left, the Devils are only two points ahead of the Eastern Conference's No. 9 team.
But New Jersey can boost that advantage with some games it should win. The Devils will play back-to-back games in the Sunshine State, starting tonight with an affair with the lowly Lightning.
The Devils and Lightning are the East's only two teams playing on Friday.
The New York Rangers dropped their game in hand Thursday night in Ottawa, 3-0. Thanks to a 3-2 shootout win in Philadelphia, the New York Islanders pulled into a tie for the eighth playoff spot.
The Maple Leafs scored three goals in the final 3:10 to drop the fading Hurricanes. Toronto, which has now played two more games than the Devils, leads New Jersey by five points for sixth spot.
Carolina, meanwhile, has lost four straight and is three points behind the Islanders and Rangers. Carolina also trails Southeast Division-leader Winnipeg by six points but has three games in hand.