RALEIGH, N.C. — Petr Mrazek made 35 saves, and the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New Jersey Devils 5-2 at PNC Arena on Friday.
Martin Necas and Nino Niederreiter each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes (33-21-3), who have won three of their past four games and moved within two points of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
“It was a better game for us, not great,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I thought we came up big at the right times.”
Mirco Mueller and Joey Anderson scored for the Devils (21-26-10), who were playing the second of a back-to-back following a 4-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. Louis Domingue made 26 saves.
“I thought the compete and effort was actually better throughout the game tonight than it was in the Detroit game,” Devils forward Blake Coleman said. “We just weren’t sharp, really, throughout the whole game. Just slapping the puck around a bit. Sometimes you’ve just got to calm down and play the game.”
The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the game when Niederreiter scored with a one-timer from the right point at 3:43 of the first period.
“The biggest thing for us was playing simple hockey,” Niederreiter said. “We got pucks in deep when we had to, and we made plays when they were there. In the last period, [Mrazek] made some ginormous saves for us.”
Mueller tied it 1-1 at 7:07, skating down the slot before tapping in a pass from Travis Zajac into an open net.
Warren Foegele put Carolina ahead 2-1 at 11:23, settling Brett Pesce‘s pass at the right hash marks and shooting inside the left post. The goal was Foegele’s 11th of the season, an NHL career high.
Andrei Svechnikov extended the lead to 3-1 at 13:46 of the second period. Sebastian Aho took a drop pass from Svechnikov along the left boards and sent a cross-ice pass to Teuvo Teravainen, who quickly sent his own cross-ice pass back to Svechnikov at the left post for a tap in.
“That’s a highlight-reel goal,” Brind’Amour said. “You got to be careful not to do that too often. When those plays happen, you want to do it again and again versus keeping it a little simpler. But those guys have a little more leeway on that because they obviously have a pretty high skill level.”
Necas gave Carolina a 4-1 lead at 1:44 of the third period when Devils defenseman Damon Severson knocked the puck into his own net while trying to clear Necas’ redirection of Jordan Staal‘s initial shot.
“I just don’t think we competed long enough and hard enough to give ourselves a chance to win,” Devils forward Kyle Palmieri said. “We started going off on our own page and that’s what caused the disconnection. It wasn’t a great last 40 (minutes).”
Joel Edmundson got his own rebound on a breakaway to make it 5-1 at 14:36.
“I felt like that was a long time coming, having a 60-minute effort like that,” Pesce said. “We didn’t have to chase the game, and it was a good feeling.”
Anderson scored his first of the season to cut it to 5-2 at 14:57. Nicholas Merkley, who was making his season debut, had the primary assist for his first NHL point.
They said it
“I don’t think the score reflects our energy or our effort. It’s just there’s a lot to learn and there is a lot to clean up. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to get off course, but it happened in the second period and we just couldn’t get to our game.” — Devils coach Alain Nasreddine
“(Confidence) is huge for individuals and actually for our team, too. We’ve got to get that swagger back a little bit, and it starts with getting back to the basics and trusting in your game. To me, it’s just playing the right way and the goals will come. We saw that tonight.” — Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour
Need to know
Aho extended his point streak to eight games (seven goals, five assists), and Svechnikov extended his point streak to six games (four goals, four assists). … Pesce had two assists and was plus-4. … Severson, who played a game-high 24:06, had his eight-game point streak end. … Merkley was playing his first game since he made his NHL debut with the Arizona Coyotes on Dec. 19, 2017.
Devils: Host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; MSG+, FS-O, NHL.TV)
Hurricanes: Host the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday (4 p.m. ET; FS-CR, SNW, NHL.TV)