RALEIGH — For 40 minutes on Saturday night, the Carolina Hurricanes looked like the old Hartford Whalers for more than one reason.
Despite being held to just 13 shots on goal through two periods, the Hurricanes entered the locker room with a one-goal lead — and were met by an angry coach.
“We kind of we got a talking-to there in the second intermission,” Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook said.
The kick in the backside from coach Rod Brind’Amour was exactly what his team — wearing the iconic blue and green uniforms of the oft underwhelming Whalers — needed to turn back into the Eastern Conference-leading Hurricanes, shutting down the New Jersey Devils in the third period to hold on for a 2-1 win in front of a standing room-only crowd of 18,956 at PNC Arena.
“We knew we weren’t there and I think Roddy knew we weren’t there,” Martinook added, “and that’s the sign of a good coach, when you can come in and say something and then your team comes out and answers the bell.”
The Hurricanes wouldn’t have held the lead if not for goaltender Antti Raanta, whose 24 saves included a handful on Devils’ breakaways in the second period that kept Carolina ahead a goal.
“He made I don’t know how many, I’d say three or four almost breakaways and key saves at real big times,” Brind’Amour said of Raanta. “We weren’t at our best and I thought their team was really kind of coming at us there for a little while, and he kept us in the game.”
Raanta, playing for the first time since Jan. 1, had a cushion to work with thanks to two first period goals.
Martinook, himself playing in just his third game since Dec. 3, opened the scoring with a highlight-reel effort.
Playing on the top line after Teuvo Teravainen was ruled out with a nagging injury, Martinook received a pass from Seth Jarvis in the slot and scored on a spinning backhand past Jon Gillies (21 saves) for his second goal of the season and a 1-0 lead at 8:02 of the opening period.
“I told him straight away that his spin-o-rama was like back in the old days in Arizona,” said Raanta, who was teammates with Martinook in 2017-18 with the Coyotes.
Andrei Svechnikov doubled the lead just over six minutes later, powering to the goal and scoring his 15th of the year at 14:22.
The Devils then took over, with Jesper Boqvist cutting the lead to one at 17:26 of the first period. New Jersey built off that with a relentless attack in the second period.
“They’re skilled, they’re fast,” Martinook said of the Devils. “You look at (Jack) Hughes and (Jesper) Bratt, they get going here (and) you’re on your heels a little bit.”
But New Jersey couldn’t again solve Raanta, whose save on Nathan Bastian on a shorthanded breakaway in the final dozen seconds of the second period sent the Hurricanes to the room clinging to a one-goal lead.
And Brind’Amour’s intermission message served its purpose.
“Third was great,” Brind’Amour said of the final 20 minutes. “That’s how you have to play with the lead. … It wasn’t great first couple periods, but I give the guys a lot of credit because when the game was on the line, they turned it up.”
Notes: The Hurricanes reached the midway point of the 82-game regular season with a 30-9-2 record and 62 points. Their .756 point percentage trials only Colorado’s .774. … Carolina outhit New Jersey 42-21, led by eight hits from Jordan Staal. … Hughes was held without a point, snapping his five-game point streak. He now has 17 points in his last 13 games. … Sebastian Aho was held without a point for the second consecutive game, just the third time this season that has happened. …The Hurricanes host San Jose at 5 p.m. Saturday.