RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes could do without a break in the schedule right now.
They’re on their best run of the season after Ray Whitney scored two power-play goals in a minute in the second period and rookie goalie Justin Peters won his second game in two outings in a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.
“It’s probably the best streak I’ve been on,” left wing Jussi Jokinen said. “Our power play is going good, so it has been fun.”
Jokinen added two goals, including an empty-netter, and Zach Boychuk scored his first NHL goal for the Hurricanes, who have won a season-best five games in a row. Carolina has won nine of its last 11 games heading into the Olympic layoff.
“We’ve been playing good for awhile, not just the five-game and four-game winning streaks,” Whitney said.
Peters, playing in his second NHL game, made 23 saves. The Hurricanes, using Manny Legace and Peters, are unbeaten in five games since first-string goalie Cam Ward went out with a back injury.
With uncertainty about the length of Ward’s absence, Peters could be in line for an extended look after the Olympics.
“Based on (what he has done), you’re going to see a fair amount of him,” Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said.
Peters, Boychuk and right wing Steven Goertzen were reassigned to Albany of the AHL after the game. Boychuk had been called up earlier in the day.
The last two wins for Carolina have come against teams that led their divisions at the time.
“When you look at the whole game, special teams made a difference for them,” New Jersey coach Jacques Lemaire said. “They scored on the power play, they get the lead, they play with more confidence.”
New Jersey broke Peters’ shutout bid on Zach Parise’s third-period goal on a rebound after Peters stopped an initial stop. Brian Rolston added the second goal for the Devils on a power play, giving him his first goal in the last nine games.
Boychuk opened the scoring in the first period with a memorable first goal.
“It feels good to get it against a world-class goalie like that,” Boychuk said.
New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur, who’ll play for Canada in the Olympics, was pulled early in the third period after surrendering his fourth goal on the 22nd shot he faced.
The Devils are winless in their last six road games. The Atlantic Division leaders can use the time off to rest, though some of them will be busy with the Olympics, including U.S. team captain Jamie Langenbrunner.
“Some of the guys will go to the Olympics and they won’t get rest there,” Lemaire said. “Hopefully, the other guys will get good rest and will be ready in a couple weeks.”
NOTES: Defenceman Alexandre Picard, acquired a day earlier in trade to Ottawa in return for centre Matt Cullen, was scratched for the Hurricanes. … Jokinen, who has a team-high 23 goals, and Whitney finished with three points apiece.