By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
That’s exactly what the Carolina Hurricanes did and earned a hard-fought 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils at PNC arena on Friday night.
Goals were hard to come by as goaltenders Cam Ward and Keith Kincaid made 25 and 28 saves, respectively.
Derek Ryan, Teuvo Teravainen, and Justin Williams scored for Carolina, while Taylor Hall notched the lone marker for New Jersey.
Playing on an ice surface that produced a lot of bouncing pucks, both teams were scoreless following the first period.
“I think you’ve seen both teams just kinda sluggin’ it, just getting’ started,” Carolina head coach Bill Peters said.
“Both teams know how to check, so there’s not a lot of room and it’s hard to get goin. I’m not sure the ice was the best I’ve ever seen it. It seemed like the puck was in the air a lot, bouncing around. I thought we were real good through 40 [minutes], and I thought they pushed a little bit in the third and came at us.”
Ryan, who finished with four shots on net, netted his 12th goal of the season and put the Hurricanes ahead 1-0 at the 11:50 mark of the second period.
Victor Rask and Noah Hanifin earned assists on the play that resulted from work around Kincaid’s crease.
“You gotta get on the inside and get into the guts of the game,” Peters pointed out.
“The guys who do that get rewarded.”
“I felt like I was gettin’ lots of chances, but the puck wasn’t goin’ in for me,” Ryan added.
“Then, I kind of make a desperate play and I get a little puck luck. That’s just how hockey works.”
Hall evened the score when his redirect got past Ward off a play set up by Sami Vatanen and Kyle Palmieri.
The equalizer came with 33 seconds remaining in the period, and extended Hall’s current point streak to 24 games, dating back to Jan. 2.
With both squads skating in desperation to claim the go-ahead goal, Teravainen was credited with getting it as a Brett Pesce point shot caromed off his shin pad and through Kincaid’s pads at 9:37 in the third.
With Elias Lindholm initiating the play, Teravainen’s 18th goal of the season became the eventual game-winner, his third of the season.
“It’s an exciting time of the year,” the Finnish forward said.
“Every goal is huge. It’s a lot of one-goal games and you have to find ways to score; and you have to defense well. A lot of times it goes off your leg or something, and that’s a big goal.”
Ward thwarted numerous Devils’ attempts to even the score, including one with the man-advantage that came just 20 seconds after Teravainen’s goal.
“They got the opportunity on the power play, it’s a one-goal game, and you’ve gotta come up with a save at a key time, and fortunately I was able to get to one,” Ward said.
While the Devils came up empty-handed, Williams scored the insurance empty-net goal with 23 seconds remaining which gave Carolina its second win in as many nights.
Following an 0-4-2 finish in six previous games that dropped them out of a wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference, the Hurricanes pulled even with Columbus for that second spot.
Playing in his second game in a row, the first time this season that Peters played the same keeper in a back-to-back set, the veteran goalie was no worse for the wear.
“It’s crunch time, obviously,” Ward said.
“We have 17 games left now. We’re in this together. We’re in the fight, and wanna compete and string wins together. We’re playing with some swag and confidence, and that’s good to see.”
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport