EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—The New Jersey Devils happily packed their bags for a quick trip to Carolina instead of for the long summer.
Scott Gomez scored two fortuitous power-play goals in the first period and the Devils stayed alive by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 Saturday, extending the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal for at least one more day.
Plagued by bad bounces and misfortune in three straight losses to Carolina, the Devils busted out with three first-period goals—all by their maligned special teams—and cruised the rest of the way.
After scoring four times in falling into an 0-3 hole in the series, the Devils quickly made sure that Game 5 would be necessary in Carolina on Sunday night.
“We don’t really have time to enjoy this,” Gomez said. “The common goal is we want to come back to Jersey. That’s where we’re going to start. We want to get another game here, and it just keeps getting harder.”
Jay Pandolfo scored a short-handed goal, and Sergei Brylin made it 4-0 just 44 seconds into the middle frame to chase rookie goalie Cam Ward, who paced Carolina’s seven-game winning streak that ended in a big way. John Madden also scored for New Jersey.
Martin Brodeur, who had his worst postseason loss in Game 1, made 19 saves. His only blemish was Mark Recchi’s goal with 8:56 left in the second that cut Carolina’s deficit to 5-1. Brodeur moved into sole possession of third place on the NHL career playoff wins list with 89 while playing his record 141st consecutive game.
The three-time Stanley Cup champion took it all in stride.
“We have to have the attitude that nothing is going to faze us,” Brodeur said. “That’s how you get in people’s heads, when you have success and don’t seem happy about it. For us, there is never satisfaction until the end prize is there.”
Just as Carolina made a statement in snapping New Jersey’s 15-game winning spurt in the series opener with a 6-0 rout, the Devils took a stand to avoid getting swept for the first time in franchise history.
“That’s definitely one of the things that we thrived on for this game,” Brodeur said. “Hopefully we’re not satisfied with not getting swept. I think that’s the drawback for doing this but we definitely have to get a good performance and make these guys make errors like they did today.”
The Hurricanes are still in great shape to reach the conference finals for the second time in four seasons, up 3-1 with two home games left should the series go the distance. Only two NHL teams have rallied from an 0-3 deficit to win.
Gomez bounced his first goal in off a defenseman and then netted his second with a deflection off his leg. Pandolfo added a short-handed tally just moments after Brodeur lost his stick as the Hurricanes’ previously potent power play operated in the Devils’ zone.
It didn’t matter.
The Hurricanes couldn’t muster a shot during the added advantage, and when Madden intercepted a pass he started a 2-on-1 the other way with Pandolfo, who gave New Jersey a 2-0 lead as he fell at 11:02.
“I saw it,” Madden said of Brodeur’s missing equipment. “I’ve seen Marty play without a stick before. He’s still good, so I wasn’t worried.”
Gomez stretched it to 3-0 by being in the right place in front. During New Jersey’s third power play, he notched his second man-advantage goal when Jamie Langenbrunner’s shot from the left point struck him and caromed past Ward with 59.3 seconds left in the first.
“It’s definitely a good feeling,” Madden said. “Maybe that’s the bounces we needed to turn this thing around and get going.”
The Devils came in with only one special-teams tally—a power-play goal in Game 3—but tripled that in less than 20 minutes. The Hurricanes killed off 14 of 15 disadvantages in the first three games and converted on eight of their 18 power-play chances.
“They got some bounces to start and then they really rode the wave,” Hurricanes forward Doug Weight said. “It was a tough game to come back after giving up three goals.”
The 22-year-old Ward’s good fortune, which began in Game 2 of Carolina’s first-round series win over Montreal, ran out. He was replaced by Martin Gerber in the opening minute of the second period when Brylin scored on the Devils’ initial shot of the frame and 17th overall.
Ward took over for Gerber after the Hurricanes’ regular gave up six goals to Montreal in the postseason opener and three more in the first period of the Game 2 loss. Ward allowed only 12 goals before Saturday.
“It’s disappointing, but a loss is a loss,” Ward said. “It’s one game and we have a chance to redeem ourselves in 24 hours.”
The Devils made two lineup changes, inserting D Tommy Albelin for D Richard Matvichuk and RW Viktor Kozlov in place of injured RW Grant Marshall. Albelin made his debut in this year’s playoffs a week before his 42nd birthday. … Carolina was outshot 33-20 after entering with a 100-74 series advantage. … The Devils were 2-for-11 on the power play. Carolina was 0-for-4.