RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)—The Carolina Hurricanes aren’t reveling in the rout.
They returned to practice Sunday, holding a spirited workout that lasted about an hour. They didn’t congratulate themselves on their performance a day earlier in a 6-0 win over New Jersey in the opener of the Eastern Conference semifinals. They know the margin of victory matters little in a best-of-seven series.
“It means nothing, it really doesn’t,” Carolina captain Rod Brind’Amour said. “It’s one game. To be honest, it’s easier to come back from a 6-0 game as a loser than a 1-0 or a 2-1 game in overtime. Those are harder to accept.”
New Jersey gets a chance to even this one Monday night.
Brind’Amour and his teammates were on the other end of a lopsided score in the previous round against Montreal, losing 6-1 in Game 1 before rallying to win in six games. And the Hurricanes took advantage of special teams against New Jersey on Saturday, finishing 5-for-8 with the man-advantage while killing off all five of their penalties.
It was quite a turnaround for the Devils, who converted eight of their 27 power plays during a sweep of the New York Rangers. They allowed only two goals on the penalty kill and scored three times while short-handed in that series.
“Power plays are funny, ” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. “You never know what’s going to happen, what adjustments are going to be made or what bounces are going to go your way. It’s hard to say.”
No matter. The result left Devils goalie Martin Brodeur with the worst playoff loss of his storied career.
“You can’t think you’re going to go out all playoffs and not think you’re going to play a bad one,” he said. “It is going to happen. Sometimes we’ve dodged bullets and it didn’t happen. We got hit hard and now we’ve got to get back up.”
That set off a scrum behind the net, with Brodeur helping set it off by swiping at Williams with his glove. Both players received roughing penalties, as did New Jersey center John Madden.
Later, Carolina’s Chad LaRose carried the puck all the way to the net before piling into Brodeur, and he was called for goaltender interference.
“I expect them to do it,” Brodeur said. “Every time I’ve played against them, it is the same thing. It is not a problem. The instance with Williams, he kind of took my helmet and elbowed me right in the head. I pushed him. It is just part of the game.”
Brodeur’s counterpart was stellar. Cam Ward, the backup all year for the Hurricanes, got his first NHL shutout by stopping 21 shots and showed none of the nervousness that might be expected from a 22-year-old rookie.
He went long stretches without being tested, then responded when New Jersey eventually came calling.
“You’ve just got to stay focused,” Ward said. “You just never know. You could be dominating the play, then a high-quality scoring chance could come the other way. You’ve got to be ready for it.”
The Hurricanes had a 38-21 advantage in shots, employing the kind of high-tempo pace that helped them finish the regular season with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
It was enough to end the Devils’ 15-game winning streak—they won the final 11 games of the regular season on the way to the Atlantic Division before winning all four against the Rangers. The winning streak tied the longest in NHL history that encompassed the regular season and playoffs.
“We know what kind of team they are,” New Jersey center Patrik Elias said. They finished second in the regular season for a reason. They’re a very skilled team.
“We need to get back to our game. We just have to work harder.”