NEWARK, N.J. – After four straight one-goal games decided either by deflections, a rebound or a little push in front, the New Jersey Devils want to avoid a winner-take-all seventh game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“We can’t let them back in this series,” Devils centre John Madden said Friday in a conference call. “We don’t want to come down to a Game 7 and leave it up to one game. We have an opportunity to put a team out of the playoffs, and that’s our goal.”
In a series in which the teams have alternated wins, the Devils will get a chance to break the trend and advance to the second round Sunday when they face the Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C.
“Every time you’re put in the situation where it’s a tie game, you never know what’s going to happen,” New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur said. “Now we have to opportunity of not going through that, if we come out with a big win in the next game. Our focus is to play well in Game 6 and we’ll do everything we can to finish the series in Carolina.”
Brodeur single-handedly pushed the Hurricanes to the brink of elimination on Thursday night, stopping 44 shots in a 1-0 record-tying victory.
The shutout was his 23rd in the playoffs, tying Patrick Roy’s NHL career record.
Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward was almost as good. He stopped 41 of 42 shots, giving up only a second-period power-play goal to David Clarkson on a deflection.
“I think shot for shot, it could have gone either way,” Ward said in Raleigh. “You look at the last two periods, we had 35-plus shots on them. Who knows? If we maybe would have had a better first period. But you learn from it, and I think to be successful, you’ve got to be able to put games behind you, and as tough as that one was, it’s over and done with. We’ve got to get ready for the next one.”
The Hurricanes have played well in splitting the last two games, firing 90 shots at Brodeur. They also should benefit from playing at home, where they have beaten New Jersey seven times in their last eight post-season games.
“Both teams have played well,” Carolina centre Rod Brind’Amour said. “I don’t think it’s an edge one way or another. But I definitely feel like we’re right there. We’re not going to win if we don’t score. That’s obvious. But if we were getting five shots a game or five chances a game, I would say we’d be in trouble. But we’ve been managing to create some offence. That’s a positive. We’ll just throw everything at them and see what happens.”
Devils left wing Zach Parise, who was named as one of three finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy given for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct, felt Carolina was limited to a lot of shots from the outside.
Brodeur, however, was a little concerned.
“You can’t expect to give up that many shots every night and expect to win,” Brodeur said. “It’s going to happen that you will, but it’s about playing well.”
Brodeur said the extra day off would help both teams, neither of which practised on Friday.
Brodeur suffered a four-inch cut on his right ankle in a first-period collision with Carolina forward Chad LaRose.
“Physically, there’s no problem,” Brodeur said. “The ankle is a little sore. It’s scabbed up a little bit from the cut that I got, but it will be fine.”
Devils coach Brent Sutter said that right wing Jamie Langenbrunner (lower body injury) and defenceman Bryce Salvador (knee) remain day to day.
For the Hurricanes, it’s win Game 6 or go home.
Ward, who won the Conn Symthe Trophy in 2006 as the playoff MVP, believes the Hurricanes have a team that can handle that pressure.
“You look around the locker room, you look at that back wall, everybody was here – those guys in particular were here for the ’06” playoffs when the Hurricans won the Stanley Cup, Ward said, looking toward Eric Staal, Brind’Amour and Ray Whitney. “So I think the experience definitely helps you, even though it is Game 6, we’ve got to treat it like it’s a Game 7 because it’s do or die right now.”
AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary contributed to this report.