NEWARK, N.J. – Jiri Tlusty and the Carolina Hurricanes concluded a grueling six-game road trip with a satisfying win over the Eastern Conference leading New Jersey Devils.
Tlusty scored two goals in the third period and Cam Ward made 26 saves as the Hurricanes beat the Devils 4-2 on Tuesday night, snapping New Jersey’s five-game winning streak.
The Hurricanes had every reason to be dead on their skates, playing on consecutive nights. Somehow they found the energy to keep the game close, and Tlusty once again worked his third period magic.
“It was a huge trip, the longest trip of the year,” Ward said. “We’re all excited now to go home, winning two games against two tough opponents back-to-back. This is a tough building to play in. We were fortunate to get the two late goals.”
Jussi Jokinen and Patrick Dwyer also scored for Carolina, which went 4-1-1 on the trip.
With Carolina on the power play and the score tied at 2 in the third, Tlusty flipped a shot toward the net that bounced off Devils defenceman Anton Volchenkov and over goalie Martin Brodeur at 7:25. Eric Stall picked up an assist, extending his point-scoring streak to 10 games.
Tlusty later added an empty-netter to seal the win.
“That’s amazing,” Tlusty said. “We just came at them hard in the third period and didn’t slow down. It was a good night for us. We just kept it going.”
Ilya Kovalchuk and Ryan Carter scored for the Eastern Conference-leading Devils, who lost in regulation for the first time at home this season (5-1-1). New Jersey had won seven straight at home against Carolina.
The Devils were coming off an emotional weekend, having swept a home-and-home series from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Against Carolina, New Jersey was a step behind all night.
“Their energy level at times was pretty amazing, for them playing back to back” Brodeur said. “It’s hard to come back and play a team that’s not a rival or close to you in the standings. It’s a good hockey team over there. We hadn’t seen them this year and they showed us a lot.”
The Hurricanes, the Southeast Division leaders, started the game with good energy, even though they played the night before on Long Island. Carolina used the kind of strong forechecking pressure that the Devils favour and took an early 8-3 shot advantage. Brodeur held his ground, fending off good scoring tries by Alexander Semin, Jeff Skinner and Joni Pitkanen.
“Carolina, give them credit, they came out and they were skating and getting the puck in deep,” Devils captain Bryce Salvador said. “They came out flying.”
The Devils broke through with the game’s first goal at 15:59 as Kovalchuk drew a penalty and then scored the power-play goal—with an assist from the video replay.
Kovalchuk cranked a shot from the blue line that hit the back of the net and bounced back into play as the referees signalled no goal, believing the puck had hit the crossbar.
Play continued for about three minutes. When replay officials got the opportunity to review, they confirmed that the goal had been scored.
It was the third goal in the last four games for Kovalchuk.
The Hurricanes also started the second period strongly, and this time they were rewarded as Jokinen got a power-play goal at 1:36.
Major credit on the score went to Joe Corvo, who faked a shot from the point that most of the Devils, including Brodeur, overplayed to the left side. Instead of firing, Corvo slid a pass to Jokinen, all alone in the right circle with a wide-open net to hit.
It was Jokinen’s first goal of the season.
Dwyer gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead with 1:31 left in the period, deflecting Jay Harrison’s point shot.
Trailing for only the third time coming into the third period this season, the Devils came out storming with Ward stopping David Clarkson right on his doorstep in the opening seconds.
New Jersey kept buzzing in the Carolina zone and the pressure paid off as Justin Faulk coughed up the puck and Carter backhanded the turnover past Ward at 1:34 to tie the game at 2.
And then Tlusty, the Hurricanes third period specialist, took over. On Monday, he scored two goals and four points in the third period to lead Carolina to 6-4 win over the New York Islanders that set the stage for the successful conclusion to road trip.
“Any time you can come here and win, it’s a huge character test,” said Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller. “It may not be pretty, but we’re coming together as a team and the chemistry is building every game.”
Notes: Former Devils captain Muller returned to New Jersey for the first time as the head coach of the Hurricanes. It was also the first game back for former Devils player and head coach John MacLean, now an assistant to Muller….D Mark Fayne was in the Devils starting lineup despite missing the morning skate due to a death in the family….The Hurricanes had last won here on March 28, 2009.