RALEIGH, N.C. – What a difference a night makes, especially to sleep off a horrible loss suffered the night before.
That’s what Carolina Hurricanes captain Justin Williams did.
It took him only 22 seconds into the team’s Sunday matchup with the New Jersey Devils to score his second goal of the season which was followed up eight seconds later by Micheal Ferland’s 10th.
Carrying the early 2-0 lead from the 30-second mark, the fastest two-goal start in franchise history, Carolina eventually posted a 2-1 finish against the Devils.
“I mean who would have thought that would have been all the scoring,” Williams said afterwards.
“Every game’s a surprise and they’re not all the same. That was a battle and it was a grind. It’s good for us to play some close games like that to have confidence later on in the season.”
Following a lackluster performance against Columbus, a 4-1 loss that was highlighted by head coach Rod Brind’Amour openly showing his frustration towards his team behind the bench, there was a lot to make up for.
Williams thought he didn’t play great against the Blue Jackets, and a quick turnaround with another game was what he needed to reignite the spark in his play.
His goal ended a 14-game goalless drought dating back to Oct. 13, a three-point (1g, 2a) night against Minnesota.
As a team, Carolina delivered the 11,211 in attendance a win, despite being outshot 34-25.
Hurricanes starting goaltender Curtis McElhinney survived the barrage of pucks New Jersey fired towards him.
He made 33 saves to earn the win despite playing only one game in the last month.
“I’ve gotten used to it,” McElhinney said.
“It does have its challenges, but those things I’ve grown to become accustomed to over the years. The biggest thing is when the team sets you up for some easier reads versus the 2-on-1s, the breakaways and stuff like that. The odd-man rushes are where things get a little hairy. I thought we did a pretty good job overall. I was able to see the puck and make the saves.”
Both teams went 0-for-3 on the power play during a grinding physical game that featured a combined 62 hits throughout.
It was one that Brind’Amour will accept in terms of earning two points, but one that wasn’t played to the level he expects.
“Well, that’s the positive of it,” he said.
“I though in the third we didn’t give up a lot, but we didn’t get too much. We tried to limit their chances and played smarter than we have in the past. It felt pretty comfortable, it didn’t feel like we were gonna give up one, but certainly wasn’t our best game, that’s for sure.”
Getting picky and critical of a team’s play, even following a win, is the coach’s job.
Relishing the victory regardless of the circumstances is what the players appreciate.
“Winning is a lot more fun, isn’t it?” Williams stated.
“The better attitude – a lot more fun around the dressing room. We need to start something rollin’ here, and we gotta get it goin’ soon.”
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport