RALEIGH, N.C. – For Carolina coach Paul Maurice, there is nothing more important in sports than confidence. His Hurricanes are starting to develop some, especially the team’s 18-year-old scoring whiz.
Rookie Jeff Skinner and Sergei Samsonov scored two goals apiece to lead the Hurricanes past the struggling New Jersey Devils 6-3 on Saturday night for their third straight win.
“He’s playing like he trying to prove that he can play centre ice in the NHL,” Maurice said of Skinner, “and it looks like he’s going to be able to do it.”
Tuomo Ruutu added a goal and three assists, rookie Zac Dalpe scored his first NHL goal, and Joe Corvo, Jamie McBain and Chad LaRose each had two assists for the Hurricanes.
They chased goalie Martin Brodeur with three goals in the first eight minutes, stretched the lead to 4-0, matched a season high with three power-play goals, and snapped a two-game losing streak at home.
“We kept it simple … and when we’ve kept it simple, we’ve scored a lot of goals,” Ruutu said. “When you spend a lot of time in their defensive end, they’re not going to score as many goals.”
Patrik Elias had a goal and an assist, and Rod Pelley and Travis Zajac and scored for New Jersey. The Devils, who have an NHL-worst 22 points, have lost 13 of 16 and 10 straight on the road.
“We played good at times, but it wasn’t a 60-minute effort,” Zajac said. “It’s a step back. We had some good spurts during the game, and we showed that when we do play well, we can compete with any team, I think, and not just compete, but we controlled parts of the games.”
Brodeur stopped just four shots before he was pulled for Johan Hedberg, who made 15 saves. Elias scored 2 1/2 minutes into the third period to make it 5-3, but Cam Ward was impenetrable after that in his third straight win.
Ward finished with 25 saves for Carolina, which also scored three times on the power play on Nov. 9 against Edmonton and Nov. 26 against Boston.
Both of Samsonov’s goals came on the power play. He went to the backhand to tap in the rebound of Corvo’s slapshot to make it 3-0 in the first, before hammering in a rebound on a 5-on-3 advantage to make it 5-2 midway through the second. That gave him his first multi-goal game in nearly a year.
Skinner entered with 26 points, one fewer than San Jose’s Logan Couture, who leads rookies. He polished off the second two-goal game of his young career by scoring on a wrist shot with 2:26 remaining.
He’s unquestionably the best of a bunch of Carolina rookies that “always bring that enthusiasm, that energy, and it gets us going, as well,” Ruutu said.
Hedberg helped the Devils beat Atlanta 3-1 on Friday night to snap New Jersey’s six-game losing streak and give Jacques Lemaire his first victory in his third stint as their coach. They are 1-7 in the second of back-to-back games this season.
The Hurricanes wasted little time in jumping on the Devils, putting three of their first seven shots past Brodeur. Carolina converted on two early power plays against a penalty-killing unit that had allowed only one goal in six games.
The penalty kill “has been pretty good all year, but they got a couple lucky goals,” Zajac said. “They tipped the first one, which it’s a tough one to defend against, and it’s bound to happen. Teams are bound to get goals against them, goals for them on the power play, but I think we were in penalty trouble too much during the game.”
Corvo made the key play on the first goal, holding in New Jersey’s clearing attempt and skating along the blue-line before flinging the puck toward the net for Ruutu to deflect past Brodeur at 1:48.
Skinner backhanded in the rebound of Tim Gleason’s snap shot 2 1/2 minutes later. When Samsonov scored his first goal with 12 minutes left, the winningest goalie in NHL history was yanked from the game.
“That’s the goal every game, to get out to a good start,” Skinner said. “I think we did that by having short shifts, getting the puck in deep early. … (The three early goals) are a credit to the guys working hard down low, getting the pucks back to the point and just finding those rebounds.”
By the time Dalpe snapped the puck past Hedberg to make it 4-0 with 6:18 left in the first, the Hurricanes had as many goals as the Devils had shots.
“We get a couple penalties, they get two goals,” Lemaire said. “They get the momentum, they’re on our heels. … It’s that simple.”
NOTES: Ruutu extended his point streak to four games. … Samsonov’s previous two-goal game was Jan. 27, 2010, in a 5-1 win over the New York Rangers. … New Jersey D Matthew Corrente had two assists. … Devils RW David Clarkson and Carolina D Jay Harrison briefly traded punches late in the second period.