RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes started slow, but took advantage of their opportunities and overtook the New Jersey Devils to earn a 3-1 win at PNC Arena on Saturday.
Chris Terry, Eric Staal, and Justin Faulk all scored in succession during a seven-minute span between the second and third periods to eventually help Carolina post its second win in as many games.
Making his second consecutive start, goaltender Cam Ward made 21 saves to earn his 20th win of the season.
Patrik Elias posted the Devils’ lone goal, while netminder Keith Kinkaid made 29 saves in the loss.
The win allowed Carolina (28-36-10) to split the season series between the two teams who met for the fourth and final time.
Even while both teams were coming off recent wins, the pace of play early on was slow and choppy.
However, as the 12,578 in attendance showed their patience, Carolina and New Jersey worked to put some semblance of offense together at both ends of the ice, and it all eventually came together.
“There wasn’t much goin’ on,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
“That’s just the way it is sometimes, and if you get impatient and start forcing things that aren’t there, then they get you in transition. I thought our guys did a reasonable job staying with it as far as that goes, and then we dug in as the game went along. I thought the last 30 minutes were our best 30.”
While Nathan Gerbe tested Kinkaid with a snap shot at the keeper’s glove hand, Travis Zajac went in uncontested on Ward at the other end.
The Carolina netminder squeezed his pads and kept the puck in front of him, not allowing a quick goal to get him or his team behind early.
Carolina continued to pepper the Devils goalie throughout the first five minutes of play.
New Jersey (31-32-12) had another opportunity to score near the middle of the period, but it was ruled that Scott Gomez’s stick was too high when he batted the puck into the net.
The goal was disallowed.
Carolina had outshot the Devils 8-2 up to that point.
However, with Jeff Skinner in the box for cross checking, New Jersey got its chance to end the scoreless tie on the power play, and capitalized on it.
Elias scored his 11th of the season when he tipped Mike Cammalleri’s shot from the point and gave the Devils the 1-0 lead at the 11:03 mark.
Carolina outshot New Jersey 9-5 in the period, and with three man-advantage opportunities, the Hurricanes still trailed by one at the first intermission.
With remaining power play time to start the second period, Carolina still remained scoreless.
The Hurricanes finished 0-for-3 on the night, and had put only two shots on goal during six minutes of power play time.
It was apparent the Hurricane’s pace of puck movement was easily defended and didn’t offer much threat.
“I just think sometimes their penalty kill does a good job,” Eric Staal said.
“I thought they were in the lanes, they were aggressive with their sticks. They were making good plays and I don’t think our passing was quick enough. I just think we didn’t move the puck as fast as we need to, not only on the power play, but I think 5-on-5. Once we started to do that as the game went on, we were better, and resulted in more time in the other end.”
Terry finally ended the Hurricanes’ scoring drought, scoring his ninth goal of the season with 1:27 left in the period.
He was open in the right circle when Skinner found him and slid a quick pass to him from the left wall.
Victor Rask also assisted on the play and extended his current point streak (1 goal, four assists) to four games.
Both teams headed into the second intermission tied 1-1 with Carolina once again outshooting the Devils (13-9) in the period.
Staal carried Carolina’s offensive momentum into the third period when he scored his 21st of the season nine seconds after the puck dropped.
After brother Jordan won the faceoff back to Ryan Murphy, the defenseman carried the puck into the New Jersey zone and put a quick wrist shot towards Kinkaid.
As the Devils netminder redirected the puck with his blocker, it dropped to the ice and Staal lifted Devils defenseman Damon Severson’s stick and scored to put Carolina ahead 2-1.
The play tied Staal for the second-fastest goal scored in franchise history.
Ron Francis owns the record at eight seconds, set in 1984 against Edmonton, while Staal’s marker tied him with Shane Willis, who took nine seconds to score against Ottawa in 2000.
Faulk extended the lead to 3-1 with a slap shot from the point at 4:58.
John-Michael Liles earned an assist on the play, as Elias Lindholm carried the puck in along the right wall before dropping it back to Faulk.
The Hurricanes’ defenseman loaded up and placed a low shot that made it through traffic to beat Kinkaid just inside his stick-side post.
“He’s a young guy and he has a heavy shot…a really good shot,” Peters said.
The Devils couldn’t put together any more offensive chances that beat Ward for the remainder of the game.
Defending against the extra attacker, Carolina successfully denied any further scoring attempts to earn another win at home.
“It was a slugfest and it was in the trenches,” Peters concluded.
“Not a lot going on at times, but that’s just the way it is when you play against New Jersey.”