NEWARK, N.J. — A couple of fortunate bounces got the Carolina Hurricanes even in the their playoff series with the New Jersey Devils and made an earlier dismal performance by the ‘Candy Canes’ seem a distant memory.
Defenceman Tim Gleason scored his first NHL playoff goal and first of the season with a slapshot off the skate of a Devils defenceman at 2:40 of overtime, and the Hurricanes beat New Jersey 2-1 Friday night, tying their first round playoff series at a game apiece.
“It was a good pass by Joe Corvo,” Gleason said after his shot from the point deflected off the skate of Niklas Havelid into the net. “He laid it right out there for me. Eric Staal had a great screen in front of the net. I closed my eyes and shot that thing as hard as I could.”
Havelid wasn’t sure if the puck hit him.
“It’s one of those unlucky ones,” Havelid said. “I can’t tell. It might have hit me. I can’t really tell. It was a bang-bang play. It doesn’t matter who it hits, it went in the net.”
Carolina nearly won the game less than a minute earlier on a similar play. Defenceman Joni Pitkanen took a shot from the left circle that appeared to hit a Devils defenceman and Rod Brind’Amour before clanging off the goal post.
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who finished with 30 saves, wasn’t so lucky the second time as Carolina beat New Jersey for the fifth time in five post-season overtime games.
“They put a lot of pressure in our zone for about a minute before they finally got the goal,” Brodeur said. “It was just a simple shot on net. It went off some bodies in front and found its way in. It’s a typical overtime goal, I guess.”
Cam Ward made 33 saves in giving the Hurricanes their first playoff win since they captured the Stanley Cup in 2006. Carolina missed the playoffs the past two years.
The Hurricanes’ performance was much better than in the 4-1 loss on Wednesday in the series opener. New Jersey seemed to be playing at a different speed than Carolina then.
“Obviously, we came out flat in the last game,” Gleason said. “We knew he had to change our game. We are a competitive team. We can be gritty. People sometimes say we’re soft, Candy ‘Canes or whatever they use. It was a different story tonight. We came ready to play.”
Brodeur didn’t have a chance on either Carolina goal.
Staal tied the game late in the first period and seemed to wake up the Hurricanes with an even flukier goal.
Ray Whitney took a shot on a power play from between the circles and missed the net. The puck, however, hit off the end boards and came right back in front to Staal for an open-net goal.
“Ray let one rip and I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” said Staal, who had 14 power-play goals in the regular season. “It was good to get that boost going into the first intermission and to get it going from there.”
Zach Parise tallied for the Devils, who lost captain Jamie Langenbrunner to a lower body injury in the second period.
“We had some good chances and unfortunately couldn’t bury them, and Ward played well,” Parise said. “I just don’t think there is a lot we need to change. We played a solid hockey game.”
The Hurricanes killed 5-of-6 Devils power plays, including a couple which resulted after foolish penalties.
New Jersey had a great chance to take the lead early in the third period, but Parise banged a shot off the left post on a 2-on-1 break.
Ward was also good in the third, making outstanding glove saves on Bryce Salvador with 10:55 left in regulation and another against Travis Zajac with 3:07 to go.
Brodeur’s best stop was a save on Staal after a length-of-the-ice rush with 4:50 to go in the third.
New Jersey had taken the lead on its second power play. Parise netted his second goal of the series, deflecting a point shot by defenceman Paul Martin past Ward.
The goal came 26 seconds after Zajac had a goal nullified by referee Mike Hasenfratz for hitting a rebound into the net with a high stick.
Tuomo Ruutu of Carolina banged a shot off the post with 5:49 left in the period.
Notes: In their 18 previous playoff series, the Devils are 14-4 after winning the first game. They are 6-5 in series after splitting the first two at home. … New Jersey went with the same lineup as Game 1. Carolina made two switches, playing D Frantisek Kaberle and LW Ryan Bayda in place of D Tim Conboy and D Dennis Seidenberg.