EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—Maybe Chad LaRose has been playing out of position. A switch from right wing to center resulted in a career game and gave the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes two much-needed points.
“The last time I played (center) was squirts,” said Larose, the second-year player said. “It didn’t matter where I played. I wanted the minutes.”
Carolina coach Peter Laviolette told LaRose on Friday that he wanted him to be a responsible player in the middle.
“He came in and provided a spark with his skating and his tenacity,” Laviolette said.
His goals were a bonus for the Hurricanes, who remained in one of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spots with nine games left in the regular season.
“It was important for us because we have four days off where we sit idle,” said Carolina forward Ray Whitney, who had a goal and an assist in the four-goal second period that ended Brodeur’s day. “Where we sit now, and four days from now, could be totally different. We certainly wanted to get the two points today.”
The Hurricanes played like a desperate team, unlike the Devils who lost their fifth in a row at home.
“When you lose and have good efforts, it’s great,” Brodeur after being driven from the net for only the second time this season. “But we lost to Boston 4-1, 3-0 versus Pittsburgh and 7-2 here, that’s not the way you want to lose games. We need to compete better.”
“We had him in our heads from the last game,” LaRose said. “We figured if we keep shooting the puck, it’ll find the back of the net.”
John Grahame faced 10 shots in the opening 40 minutes as Carolina built a 5-1 lead. He finished with 18 saves as the Hurricanes beat New Jersey for the first time in four games
Coming into the game, LaRose had four career goals in 119 games, including a game winner on his first NHL goal against Brodeur in December 2005.
LaRose faked a shot from the top of the left circle, skated to the dot and beat Brodeur with a low shot that the goaltender said deflected off a skate at 4:48 of the first period.
Vasicek, Whitney and Brind’Amour scored in less than a five-minute span in the second period to make it 4-0.
Vasicek deflected Gleason’s shot over Brodeur’s shoulder. Whitney capped a 3-2 by taking a pass from Brind’Amour and scoring his 28th goal. Brind’Amour sent Brodeur to the bench with a shoulder-height deflection of Glen Wesley shot.
“There was a side tip, a down tip and an up tip,” said Brodeur, noting only Whitney’s goal was clean. “We got it covered for today.”
Clarkson cut the lead to 4-1 with a shot from the left circle but LaRose scored from the right circle with 3:02 left in the period to end any hopes of a Devils’ comeback.
“The first goal was pretty lucky and the second I just shot it from the wing,” LaRose said. “It was fun. I felt pretty comfortable out there.”
Wesley got his 400th career assist on LaRose’s first goal. …Hurricanes D Niclas Wallin appeared to hurt his right knee late in the first period but came back and played. …The win was only the Hurricanes’ 11th in 25 games. …The Hurricanes have allowed one power play goal in 13 games, killing off 50-of-51 chances.