The Carolina Hurricanes extended their season high winning streak to six games while halting the New Jersey Devils home streak to 11, and defeated the Atlantic Division leading team, 2-1 on Saturday night. Cam Ward and Martin Brodeur battled all game long, each making save after save, some of them in spectacular fashion, but the Canes kept pressure in New Jersey's zone for most of the third period and came away with the win.
The victory gives Carolina a 10-1-2 record for the month which is the best March in franchise history.
The game started off pretty evenly as both teams went through a "feeling out" process. But the Devils got on the scoreboard first with less than two minutes remaining in the period when Patrik Elias scored during a rare odd man rush in the Carolina zone.
The second period was scoreless, but the Canes would have the advantage in play as they outshot the home team 18-13.
The Devils were probably worn out in the third period because the Hurricanes really took it to them. Brodeur was more than equal to the task though and looked impenetrable at times. But with about seven minutes left in the game, the Hurricanes were finally able to get a puck past the world class goalie.
Rod Brind'Amour made a nice play keeping the puck in the zone and got it over to Joe Corvo. The defenseman put the puck on net and Sergei Samsonov was able to get his stick on the rebound and flick it past Brodeur to tie the game.
The Hurricanes did not sit back with the game tied though and just hope for a tie and a point. They kept attacking. Jussi Jokinen would draw a hooking penalty behind the Jersey net on Paul Martin, and the Staal, Cole, and Ruutu line then went to work. Number 12 fired the puck on net and the rebound bounced out front. Tuomo Ruutu then used perfect hand-eye coordination to knock the rebound in the net for the game winner. Those can be tough pucks to get a stick on, and the Finn made a beautiful, bang-bang play on it.
The Devils would try to regroup, but the Canes held on to the fragile lead to take the two points and the win.
Cam Ward earned first star of the game and might be named the NHL's first star for the second consecutive week. A couple of his saves were unbelievable, (he called them lucky). He had a tremendous overall effort and out-dueled his mentor at the other end of the rink.
It would be difficult to call any single player out for having a bad game. Each player contributed. Each played well. Each of them gave 100%. They managed 48 shots on goal, about the most Brodeur has seen in a game all year long. It was truly a team effort and win.
Jussi Jokinen had the best face off percentage on the team and won 9 of 15 draws, (60%).
Patrick Eaves deserves a shout out. It seemed like he was all over the ice and came close to scoring on more than one occasion. He led the team with three hits.
Joni Pitkanen once again played a quietly, solid game and broke up several chances in his own end. He led the team with over 24 minutes of TOI.
Joe Corvo had the most shots on goal, (6). Eaves came in second with (5).
The Canes will now take a couple of days off. Their next game is against the Rangers on Thursday night.