Hurricanes respond with 5 2nd period goals to push Devils to brink

Carolina returns home for Game 5 with a 3-1 series lead

Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against the Devils in Carolina’s 6-1 win in Game 4 of their series Tuesday in Newark, New Jersey. (Adam Hunger / AP Photo)

NEWARK, N.J. — The Devils carried over their positive momentum from Game 3, scoring in the first two minutes of Tuesday’s Game 4 to ignite the Prudential Center crowd.

By the end of the second period, New Jersey fans were headed to the exits.

The Hurricanes scored five goals in the second period, including four on six shots in 5:40, chasing Devils goalie Vitek Vanecek on their way to a 6-1 win to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their second round series.

“The first five minutes I think we were on our heels again,” Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook said. “And then once we settled in, we got to our game.”

It would’ve been easy for the Hurricanes to be shell-shocked when a Martin Necas failed clear and Brett Pesce turnover led to a Jack Hughes redirection goal just 1:55 into the game.

But both Necas and Pesce redeemed themselves several times over.

Necas evened the score at 17:40 of the first when Carolina defenseman Jaccob Slavin stole the puck from Devils forward Michael McLeod in the neutral zone and zipped a pass to Martinook.

Martinook’s saucer pass to Necas was deflected by New Jersey defenseman Damon Severson, but not enough — Necas located the puck and shot it past Vanecek’s blocker to tie the game 1-1.

Then Necas started the second period goal barrage on a similar play. He initiated a give-and-go with Pesce, whose pass back to Necas was partially tipped by Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler. But Necas again zeroed in on the puck and quickly lifted it over Vanecek to give Carolina the lead.

“The good players, they’ll find a way to put those in the net, and that’s what happened,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said of Necas. “He still had to bury them. He hit two posts the other night (in Game 3). … When he’s out there, there’s a chance that something good can happen.”

Pesce then got a goal of his own. Then Jesper Fast. Then Brent Burns. In the blink of an eye — or just under six minutes of game time — the Hurricanes had a 5-1 lead.

Then in the waning seconds of the middle frame — with Vanecek (12 saves) on the bench after allowing five goals on 17 shots — Martinook rushed up the right wing and snapped a shot past Akira Schmid (10 saves). It was Martinook’s third point of the night in what was his franchise-record fourth straight multipoint postseason game.

“That’s a slow night for him,” Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal joked. “He’s been, obviously, our best player, really since playoffs started.”

Martinook, who didn’t register a point in six games of the Islanders series, has nine through four games against the Devils.

“I don’t think his game’s changing at all,” Brind’Amour said of Martinook. “People that watch him all the time, it’s just the puck is going in right now. But he gets chances every night.”

In all, five Carolina players had at least two points and five more registered one. It was the perfect response after the 8-4 Game 3 loss that Brind’Amour called “horrible.”

Devils coach Lindy Ruff had a similar assessment after his team’s loss on Tuesday.

“That’s about as poor that we’ve skated and supported the puck in any game this year,” Ruff said.

Carolina goalie Frederik Andersen — making his fifth straight start after Antti Raanta got the call in the first five games of the postseason — settled in after allowing the Hughes goal. The Prudential Center fans started to mockingly chant his name, but Andersen responded by stopping the final 19 shots he faced — 21 in all — to shake off his struggles in Game 3 and improve to 4-0 in the postseason.

“I’m just happy we won,” Andersen said. “That’s all that matters. All that stuff is noise, and I try to focus on what’s on the ice and what’s in front of me.”

Now the Devils will have to try to mount a response in Thursday’s Game 5 in Raleigh or see their season end. A win for Carolina would send them to the Eastern Conference final for the second time in five seasons.

“We’re gonna do everything we can to try to win it,” Brind’Amour said, “and they’re gonna do everything they can. We know that game’s gonna start like this again, and we’re gonna have to be our best to win.”

Notes: Carolina goalie Antti Raanta did not dress for the third straight game. Pyotr Kochetkov served as backup for the Hurricanes. … Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton was minus-3 in the game and is minus-8 with no points in the series against his former team. … Burns had a goal and an assist, his first points since Game 4 of the Islanders series. … A goalie has been pulled in all four games of the series. The Devils pulled Schmid in Games 1 and 2 and Vanecek in Game 4, and the Hurricanes relieved Andersen with Kochetkov in Game 3. … Jesperi Kotkaniemi lost all nine of his faceoffs. … The Devils were credited with 26 giveaways to Carolina’s two. Jack Hughes had six, followed by Brendan Smith with four.