RALEIGH — The Hurricanes used an early goal and two quick tallies in the second period to build enough of a cushion to hold off the visiting Devils 3-2 on Thursday at PNC Arena.
Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Jordan Staal scored, and Antti Raanta made 23 saves to help Carolina improve to 27-15-5 with 59 points — two behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers.
1. The Hurricanes took control of the game in a 25-second stretch in the second period.
Carolina needed just 3 seconds to score on its first power play of the night, with Aho winning a faceoff and Michael Bunting racing in to poke the puck across to Teravainen. Teravainen’s one-timer beat Nico Daws (9 saves) to give the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead at 2:54 of the second period.
It was Teravainen’s second goal in as many nights, giving him 16 on the season.
“Sometimes it goes that way, I guess,” Teravainen said.
On the following shift, Carolina scored again. Seth Jarvis knocked a puck out of midair and passed it back to Brady Skjei, whose point shot was redirected in front by Staal for his first goal since Dec. 19.
“I know I’m not crazy counted on scoring goals around here, but it’s always nice to have it go in the back of the net and contribute that way,” said Staal, whose goal drought ended at 14 games with his sixth goal of the year.
New Jersey pulled Daws for Vitek Vanecek (11 saves) and used the extra time to challenge the goal, arguing that Jarvis had knocked the puck down with a high stick. But the call was upheld and Carolina got another power play, which was unsuccessful.
The Devils were limited to five shots in the middle frame, not registering their first until 11:46 of the period. New Jersey assistant coach Travis Green said the Devils “lost the game in the second.”
2. Up 3-0 entering the third period, the Hurricanes could be forgiven for seeing the finish line on the second night of a back-to-back.
Coming off an emotional win in Boston with the moms/mentors on the trip, Carolina had the Devils waiting for them back in Raleigh. Aho’s goal set the tone, and the two quick goals in the second gave the Hurricanes enough of a cushion to survive the third period on fumes.
“I think we did a pretty good job,” Teravainen said. “We were a little tired maybe. But at the end, good battle. Good battle win.”
3. Carolina’s special teams were again the difference, with the Hurricanes going 1 for 4 on the power play and 3 for 3 on the penalty kill.
“I don’t want to give away too many secrets,” Brind’Amour said of the team’s success on the penalty kill. “But at the end of the day, all that stuff comes down to your willingness to go dig in and make good reads.”
The Hurricanes haven’t given up more power play goals than they’ve allowed since The Nov. 30 overtime loss to the Islanders. Carolina has had the edge 13 times in those 26 games.
Number to know
3 — Rookie defensemen in the lineup for the Devils on Thursday. Nemec, Luke Hughes and Santeri Hatakka — who came into the night with a combined 81 regular season games of NHL experience — all played on different pairings.
“It kind of played to our game,” Staal said of attacking New Jersey’s young defense. “Obviously, our whole system is designed to forecheck defense and try to create turnovers and just pressure, pressure. They’re obviously missing some big boys, and I think that was a big key for us.”
Antti Raanta, Hurricanes goalie — For the second straight night, the Hurricanes entered the third period with a potential shutout in the making but allowed two goals in the third period. No matter — Raanta was fantastic on a night when Carolina needed a little extra in the second half of a back-to-back. He made 23 stops — including 10 high-danger saves, according to NaturalStatTrick.com — and improved to 5-2-1 since his stint in the AHL.
The fans have also fully embraced the renewed Raanta.
What a difference a month makes. pic.twitter.com/EwoczFPmkc
— Cory Lavalette (@corylav) January 26, 2024
“That’s why you play hockey,” Raanta said. “You battle through the game and then you hope to hear good words afterwards from the fans.”
Lindy Ruff, Devils coach — The Hurricanes added injury to insult when a puck cleared out of their end and hit the 63-year-old in the head in the second period. Ruff finished out the middle frame but did not come out for the third, leaving the bench to Green. Ruff is likely feeling the heat as the injury-plagued Devils continue to spin their wheels in a season with high expectations, and Green could be the guy to replace him if GM Tom Fitzgerald decides to make a change.
Associate coach Travis Green says that Lindy Ruff was doing a bit better post-game than he was after the second.
Green handled the post-game press conference tonight instead of Ruff who was held back for the third period. #NJDevils
— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) January 26, 2024
They said it
“If we’re going to do this thing, I’m gonna have to be better offensively and be there for the group when it’s needed most, and I’m really focused on getting better at that. I have to practice it too. I’ve gotta work on it, and I don’t and I should. I gotta get on it more and be in front more and create offense and do all the other things that I do well as well.”
— Hurricanes center Jordan Staal on needing to contribute more offensively