NEWARK, N.J. — No one expected the Devils to go quietly after they lost the first two games of their second round series with the Hurricanes.
New Jersey scored three times in the first period and chased Carolina goalie Frederik Andersen with a goal early in the second on the way to an 8-4 win in front of 16,514 Sunday in Game 3 of their second round series at Prudential Center, halving the Hurricanes’ series lead to 2-1.
“We were horrible,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “That’s probably putting it mild. … They were the better team, no doubt.”
The start was good for Carolina, with Martin Necas hitting the post and also getting a partial breakaway. But neither chance ended up in the net.
“That was about our only opportunity,” Brind’Amour said. “Maybe if we score there, things are a little different.”
Instead, the floodgates opened for the Devils.
As Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei and Devils center Jack Hughes battled behind the Carolina net, the puck squirted out to Timo Meier, who stuffed it in for his first goal of the postseason and a 1-0 lead at 5:58 of the first.
The Devils doubled their lead when former Hurricanes defenseman Brendan Smith set up Hughes for a shot in the right circle that beat Andersen short side for a 2-0 lead at 10:55.
Carolina then got its first power play of the night, but New Jersey center Michael McLeod needed just 10 seconds to extend the lead to 3-0, rushing up the right wing and going past Seth Jarvis before scoring five-hole on Andersen at 12:30.
“The shorthand one, that was kind of a backbreaker there,” Brind’Amour said.
Jordan Staal added: “We knew they were gonna come with a push, and we weren’t ready for it clearly.”
A goal by Nico Hischier — also his first of the playoffs — 53 seconds into the second period ended the night for Andersen (8 saves), but Carolina didn’t fold up.
Sebastian Aho’s fifth goal of the postseason at the two-minute mark of the second got the Hurricanes on the board. And after Damon Severson scored on Pyotr Kochetkov (18 saves) to push New Jersey’s lead to 5-1, Jordan Martinook was awarded a penalty shot following a shorthanded breakaway.
Martinook scored on Vitek Vanecek (26 saves) to make it 5-2 and give Carolina hope a couple of minutes after the game’s midway point.
But the Hurricanes couldn’t muster enough to erase the deficit. After Vanecek stopped Jesper Fast on a 2-on-1 chance, Miles Wood scored his second of the series by rushing past the Hurricanes on the left wing and scoring on Kochetkov — who was saddled with the loss since Carolina scored four goals.
A second Hughes goal made it 7-2 at 5:17 of the third, and a flurry of penalties on the Hurricanes led to three more goals — shorthanded ones by Staal and Jarvis, and a power play goal by New Jersey’s Ondrej Palat.
The Hurricanes’ three shorthanded goals tied for the most in a playoff game in NHL history, with the three previous times coming in the early 1980s.
Carolina was ready to move past Game 3 after the performance.
“It’s a seven-game series for a reason, right?” Stefan Noesen said. “That’s it. … This is just one game. Take the positives that we had from it and shed it and move on.”
Noesen got the Hurricanes’ only win of the night, getting the best of Erik Haula in a third period fight.
Now Carolina needs to find more collective fight for Game 4.
“We know what to do,” Martinook said. “We’ll look in the mirror and we’ll come back on Tuesday and get back to what we do.”
Notes: Antti Raanta did not dress for the second straight game due to illness. … Devils defenseman Luke Hughes, the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, made his playoff debut. He played two games with New Jersey in the regular season. He had two assists. … Skjei and Brett Pesce were both minus-4. … Jack Hughes finished with two goals and two assists. … Staal’s shorthanded goal was the second of his career in the playoffs (the other was in the Penguins’ 2009 Stanley Cup run). Jarvis, Martinook and Staal joined 14 other players in franchise history to score a shorthanded goal in the postseason. Aho, with two, holds the franchise record.