New-look Hurricanes pick up 3-1 win over Devils

Chris Baird, Triangle Sports Network
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Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

NEWARK, N.J. – The retooled Carolina Hurricanes ended a three-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Tuesday.

Goals from Derek Ryan, Joakim Nordstrom, and Nathan Gerbe were enough to hold off the Devils (30-27-7) as goaltender Eddie Lack’s 29-save performance claimed the win for Carolina (29-26-10).

Roster changes generate new energy

Coming off an emotional 5-2 loss to St. Louis on Sunday which followed the announced trade of former captain Eric Staal to the New York Rangers, the Hurricanes’ win was earned by a much different group than head coach Bill Peters had penciled in two days earlier.

With additional trade deadline transactions that moved forward Kris Versteeg to Los Angeles and defenseman John-Michael Liles to Boston, the team recalled Ryan along with fellow forward Brock McGinn and defenseman Ryan Murphy to fill the gaps on Monday.

Injuries still kept defenseman Justin Faulk (ankle) and forward Jay McClement (upper body) out of the lineup, while it was announced earlier in the day that forward Andrej Nestrasil would miss the rest of the season due to a fractured vertabra injury suffered during a 3-1 loss against Toronto last Thursday.

Memorable career moments

Ryan’s call-up was his first to the National Hockey League (NHL) after leading the team’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate in Charlotte in both goals (17) and assists (42) through 55 games this season.

It was a memorable night for the experienced 29-year-old center whose previous professional playing stints in Sweden and Austria bode well for him as he recorded his first NHL goal and won 12-of-19 faceoffs (63%) in his debut with Carolina.

After New Jersey’s Adam Henrique opened the game’s scoring, Ryan’s wrist shot tied the score 1-1 at the 4:36 mark of the second period with defenseman Jaccob Slavin earning the assist on the play.

Both teams remained deadlocked until Nordstrom scored his ninth of the season, and first game-winning goal of his career, with 1:29 remaining in the third period.

Slavin and Elias Lindholm helped set up the goal.

Gerbe then added an unassisted empty-netter just over a minute later, and sealed the win for the Hurricanes.

It was Gerbe’s second goal of the season and first since the team’s home opener back on Oct. 10.

Playoffs still a possibility

Having suffered a 5-1 loss to the Devils at home on Dec. 3, subsequent roster moves generated an upward trend in the team’s success and put Carolina in the playoff discussion in recent weeks.

Though jumping past the Devils, the Hurricanes currently trail the Pittsburgh Penguins by four points and concede three games-in-hand.

With 17 games remaining, Carolina has its work cut out for itself in earning the final wildcard spot, but with the spirited road win over New Jersey, the Hurricanes continued to show that more surprises could still come from what Peters has previously described as a resilient squad.

Boxscore: Carolina 3, New Jersey 1