Caniacs may have thanked the New Jersey Devils for ridding the Carolina Hurricanes of the New York Rangers in round one, but the Canes showed no mercy toward the Devils this time around. Carolina defeated New Jersey 5-1 on Wednesday, May 3 in game one of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena.
The Hurricanes hit a three-goal hot streak across the first 22 minutes and never looked back. Holding New Jersey to one goal on 18 attempts, Carolina took the return to playoffs hockey in stride despite a five-day break from the ice.
“I was a little bit concerned … about how we were going to respond,” said Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “You could see we got a little more legs. They got going as the game went on — creds to the guys who came ready to go.”
Center Jack Drury returned to Carolina’s third line after missing two games due to an upper-body injury, sliding Black Ace Mackenzie MacEachern to the list of healthy scratches. On the other side of the ice, New Jersey right wing Timo Meier sat out game one with an undisclosed injury — likely the result of Jacob Trouba’s heavy hit on the 26-year-old in game seven against the Rangers on Monday.
Goaltender Frederik Anderen returned to the crease after stopping 33 shots against the New York Islanders on Friday, April 28 in his first playoffs appearance with the Hurricanes. Fellow netminder Antti Raanta took control of much of the first round, but it was Andersen who supervised Carolina’s final victory in round one.
The Devils were all but absent in the first frame, putting up a single shot on goal across the first 20 minutes. The Hurricanes seized gaps in New Jersey’s play to allow defenseman Brett Pesce’s first goal of the playoffs, a neat shot off the faceoff that made it well past New Jersey netminder Akira Schmid.
READY. SET. BRETT. pic.twitter.com/CE2AUcOSYJ— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) May 3, 2023
“[Carolina] backed us into a corner right away — we didn’t execute,” said Devils head coach Lindy Ruff. “You got to give them a lot of credit. They created a lot of pressure, their [defense] was heavily involved in the forecheck. We just didn’t win enough of those 50-50 puck battles in the first period.”
The buddy-buddy duo of centers Seth Jarvis and Jesperi Kotkaniemi notched goals two and three, respectively. Jarvis’ chance came after the 21-year-old tore down the ice to beat New Jersey defenseman Ryan Graves for the 2-0 lead. Kotkaniemi scored two minutes into the second frame, sparking Devils head coach Lindy Ruff to pull Schmid off the ice. That being said, the blame wasn’t to be placed entirely on Schmid — New Jersey underperformed across the board.
Don't hurt 'em, Seth 🥵 pic.twitter.com/CZ78XYhe3s— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) May 3, 2023
“It had nothing to do with our goalie,” Ruff said. “I could’ve taken multiple players out.
New Jersey began to bounce back after goaltender Vitek Vanecek replaced Schmid in the crease, holding Carolina to a single goal in the second frame. The Devils’ cause was helped by right wing Nathan Bastian, who scored on New Jersey’s second attempt. PNC Arena quieted down at the sight of Bastian’s goal, but it was the jolt Andersen needed to save the remaining shots.
The win was made even sweeter with defenseman Brady Skjei’s first goal of the playoffs and right wing Jesper Fast’s empty-netter to seal the deal. With a four-goal lead, the Hurricanes needed to do little else than sit back, relax and coast to victory.
The besties balled out tonight pic.twitter.com/KkWueyQkLw— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) May 4, 2023
“That was obviously the way you want to do it,” Brind’Amour said. “I heard what they said — they’re coming off an emotional series, seven games against the Rangers, all the hype. You got to turn around and come right back at it, and we’re sitting here resting.”
The Hurricanes will return to PNC Arena on Friday, May 5 to take on the Devils on home ice once again. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.
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