Category 5: Hurricanes look to hold serve in Game 2

Carolina is ahead in the series after winning 5-1 in Game 1

Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen watches the puck controlled by Devils Ryan Graves as he battles between Hurricanes players Jaccob Slavin and Paul Stastny. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — The Hurricanes can take firm control of their second round series against the Devils with a win in Game 2 Friday night at PNC Arena.

Carolina took care of business in the series opener, scoring three times in the first 22 minutes and chasing New Jersey rookie goalie Akira Schmid in a 5-1 win Wednesday.

1. Road teams are 34-22 so far in these playoffs, but the Hurricanes have been able to defend their home ice. Carolina is 3-1 so far in the playoffs and 10-2 over the last two postseasons.

Since Rod Brind’Amour took over as coach in 2018-19, the Hurricanes are 18-7 at PNC Arena in the playoffs, and they usually win with defense. In 12 of those wins, Carolina allowed one or fewer goals. The only time the Hurricanes have allowed more than two goals on home ice in the Brind’Amour era are the 4-0 loss to the Bruins in Game 4 in 2019; the 6-2 loss to the Rangers in Game 7 last season; and the Game 5 3-2 loss to the Islanders this year.

2. The Devils were one of the NHL’s best road teams this year, posting a 28-9-4 record away from Prudential Center. Their .732 point percentage on the road trailed only Boston, which was 31-8-2 (.780).

That served New Jersey well when it lost the first two games of its series against the Rangers on home ice but rebounded to win the next two at Madison Square Garden. The home team won each of the final three games of the series as the Devils advanced.

New Jersey defenseman Ryan Graves chalked up the Devils’ success in those big wins at MSG to rising to the occasion, not the team’s success on the road throughout the regular season.

“I think it’s less road versus home, it’s more just a sense of urgency we had in Game 3 and 4 where we believe in our group and we thought that that was not the way we’re gonna go down,” he said after Friday’s morning skate. “If we’re gonna go down in the first round, then we were gonna at least put up a fight and make it a longer series.”

New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff also said his team’s road record isn’t that big of a factor in the playoffs.

“We know they’re a good team,” Ruff said of the Hurricanes, “and we know that, home or road, you have to do good things with the puck, you have to execute. And that’s really our game plan, to make the plays that are there. We left a lot of plays out there.”

3. Whether it’s the Devils’ players or coaches, the Hurricanes’ players or coaches or anyone in the hockey universe, it seems like New Jersey got a pass for their Game 1 performance. The excuse du jour was that the Game 7 win over the Rangers lingered into the start of the Devils’ series with the Hurricanes.

“There definitely is something to say about the emotional high of Game 7, quick turnaround coming here and stuff like that,” Graves said. “But give them credit: They took it to us, they played with a lot of energy, they played well within their system, and we just weren’t fully prepared to do the right things.”

Ruff said he expected his team to have a bounce-back performance while also, like Graves, crediting the Hurricanes for their execution in Game 1.

“I expect a lot more energy, expect a lot more speed, expect the team to play quicker,” the Devils coach said. “Give them a lot of credit: They played a real good game. I didn’t like a lot of parts of our game. We lacked speed, we lacked energy. So I think our game will be a lot better.”

Hurricanes center Paul Stastny mentioned the “emotional high” the Devils were probably on coming off their win over the rival Rangers and that he anticipated New Jersey to be ready at the start of Game 2.

“We know we’ll get a better version of their team today,” Stastny said. “And then for us, it’s we can’t think it’s gonna be like it was a Game 1. We know they’re gonna put up a fight, and we’ve gotta be ready to respond.”

Brind’Amour, per usual, has moved past Game 1 and is focused on Game 2.

“Every game has its own start,” he said. “What’s done is done. We’ve got to come out and try to play our game.”

4. It doesn’t appear Timo Meier will be in the lineup for Game 2. The Devils’ deadline acquisition was hurt on a hit by Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba in last round’s Game 7 and missed Wednesday’s Game 1. The Swiss forward took the morning skate on Friday, as he did Wednesday, wearing a full shield, but he didn’t participate in New Jersey’s power play drills during the skate.

“Timo will be a game-time decision,” Ruff said. “He’s doing a lot better today.”

Ruff was also vague about who would start in goal. Schmid was in the starter’s crease while Vitek Vanecek and Mackenzie Blackwood shared the other net at the morning skate, but Ruff was noncommittal.

“I have three options,” he said, “and I’m going to come up with one by game time.”

Ruff did say his lineup would have one undisclosed change — perhaps rookie defenseman Luke Hughes will play in an effort to add mobility to the Devils’ blue line.

The Hurricanes’ lineup looked the same at the morning skate: no changes to the lines and Frederik Andersen was in the home starter’s crease.

5. Even though it went 0-for-3 in Game 1, the Hurricanes’ power play had some encouraging moments. Both Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis hit the post when Carolina led 2-0 in Game 1. Brind’Amour seems to have finally settled on a top unit of Aho, Jarvis, Stefan Noesen, Martin Necas and Brent Burns.

“I thought the other night, I liked the way our power play was working,” Brind’Amour said. “They were snapping it around; you could tell they were in sync.”

The Hurricanes haven’t scored on the power play since Game 4 of the Islanders series, but they’ve also allowed just one in the postseason. That goal came late in the Game 3 loss to the Islanders on a Kyle Palmieri redirection. Carolina’s PK is the best in the postseason at 95%, and the power play is sixth among remaining teams at 17.9%.

The Devils, meanwhile, have converted on just 15.4% of their postseason opportunities — second worst among teams remaining in the playoffs (Seattle, 12%) — and are fourth among the final eight teams on the penalty kill at 83.9%.