New Jersey Devils rookie Dawson Mercer made a mistake that swung the momentum Carolina’s way.
The Hurricanes’ rookies finished the job.
Seth Jarvis scored 99 seconds into overtime, capping Carolina’s wild 3-2 comeback and giving goalie Pyotr Kochetkov a win in his NHL debut.
“It’s a great moment for him,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said of Kochetkov winning his first game. “It’s the NHL, this is special, especially that first game. He’ll remember this forever, especially the way this game ended up.”
Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo jumped on a Damon Severson clearing attempt inside the Devils’ blue line and fed a pass past the New Jersey defenseman to Jarvis, who snapped a shot past Jon Gillies for Carolina’s third goal in six minutes and 15 seconds to get the win.
“It’s definitely a bigger goal than just mine,” said Jarvis, who got his 16th goal of the season at the game-winner for the second straight game. “For Koochie just to get that win, he played so well for us the whole game. So just to get that makes it a lot sweeter.”
Down 2-0 with under five minutes remaining, the Hurricanes started their comeback by jumping on a rookie mistake.
After a shot by Nino Niederreiter nearly made its way through the pads of Gillies (26 saves), Carolina swarmed the net only to see Mercer come away with the puck. But instead of turning up ice to get the puck out of the zone, the Devils rookie curled into the corner and sent it behind the net.
Jesper Fast pressured New Jersey’s Dougie Hamilton — playing his first game against the Hurricanes since signing with the Devils in the offseason — and the defenseman turned the puck over to Carolina’s Brady Skjei. Skjei quickly shot, and the puck directed off the inside of Devils defenseman Kevin Bahl’s left knee and went in the net to cut New Jersey’s lead to 2-1 with 4:36 remaining.
“I don’t know how it even went in, but we’ll take it,” Skjei said of his ninth goal of the season, a new career high.
The Hurricanes smelled blood in the water, and right after Kochetkov made his way to the bench for an extra attacker, Niederreiter got loose in front of Gillies and scored off the rebound of a DeAngelo shot to tie the game with 1:56 remaining.
“I knew I had to go to the net, and that’s a lot of traffic and luckily it came to my side and I had a chance to bang it home,” said Niederreiter, whose goal was his 24th of the season.
Jarvis then scored the winner in overtime to move Carolina two points ahead of the Rangers in the Metropolitan Division standings.
The Hurricanes wouldn’t have gotten there without Kochetkov (17 saves).
New Jersey had built a two-goal lead despite having just 14 shots on the 22-year-old Russian.
But Kochetkov made big stops to keep the game at 2-0, including stopping Jesper Boqvist on a breakaway just 40 seconds after the Devils had extended their lead.
“The game’s pretty much done if they get that third one, and he made two really quality saves after it was 2-0 and kept us in the game and obviously gave us a chance.,” Brind’Amour said.
The only goal through 40 minutes came when New Jersey’s Yegor Sharangovich scored his 23rd goal of the season by redirecting a Boqvist shot past Kochetkov for a power play goal at 15:43 of the second period.
The Devils doubled the lead at 8:30 of the third when Devils captain Nico Hischier wristed a shot from the left faceoff circle that appeared to graze Skjei’s skate and go in off the far post to push New Jersey’s lead to 2-0.
Notes: Hamilton finished with three shots on goal, five blocked shots and a minus-1. … DeAngelo had two assists, giving him 41 on the season and passing Joni Pitkanen for the most by a Hurricanes defenseman since the relocation to North Carolina. … Brendan Smith had four shots on goal, giving him 13 in his last three games. … Fast’s assist on Niederreiter’s goal was his 20th of the season and gave him 33 points, matching his career high.