Advantage, New Jersey.
The Devils beat the Hurricanes, 3-2 in overtime last night to take control of the series and give themselves home ice advantage once again. While the Canes had some good moments, the Devils imposed their will at times, especially on the forecheck, and have yet to trail in regulation during this entire series.
Carolina's once respectable powerplay has vanished into thin air and the team's defensemen are making glaring mistakes at inopportune times which are costing the Hurricanes dearly.
Arguably, the biggest play of the game happened with just nine seconds left in the first period when Joe Corvo passed the puck directly to Brian Gionta who was all alone in front of Cam Ward. Corvo seemed to be trying to avoid a hit by Brendan Shanahan on the play, but there's no doubt he should have held the puck or passed along the boards in that situation.
To the Hurricanes credit, they fought back and caught up twice in this game. Zach Parise chipped another goal past Cam Ward to start things off, (his third of the playoffs), but Ryan Bayda and the fourth line answered just 31 seconds later. Bayda, Scott Walker, and Jussi Jokinen had some of the most consistent offensive zone play of the night.
The Devils took the lead back before the end of the period because of the previously mentioned pass by Corvo.
In the second period, things got chippy and the Hurricanes had a good chance to do some damage. At one point they had over 50 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage, but did not get a decent shot off. Maurice made a line change with just a couple of seconds left in the powerplay and once again the players you would not expect, were the ones who got the job done. Patrick Eaves shot (or passed) the puck toward the net and Chad LaRose tipped it past Brodeur to tie things up.
The third period went back and forth with the Hurricanes carrying play a bit near the end. They had yet another powerplay chance when Colin White took a roughing call, but could not convert.
In overtime, the Devils helped to create some luck for themselves and were the better team in the extra period this time around. Travis Zajac got credit for the game winner and the Jersey bench erupted.
Somehow, someway, the Hurricanes need to figure out how to take the lead in a game. Continually playing from behind is playing right into the Devil's hands.
The top lines for Carolina are not getting the job done. The fourth line looked to be one of the best for the team last night, and individually, Chad LaRose and Patrick Eaves were outstanding. So far in this series, Eric Staal has one goal and one point while Erik Cole and Tuomo Ruutu have yet to register a single dent on the scoresheet.
Frank Kaberle has barely played during the past couple of months and now he is getting plenty of time on the powerplay. Not that it is all his fault that the powerplay stinks recently, but why change what had been working before, especially when he hadn't been used during the long winning streak?
Anton Babchuk led the team with four blocked shots, one was crucial during an odd man rush in the third period when he dove face first on the ice to break up a play.
Joni Pitkanen led the team with six shots on goal. (Staal and LaRose had five each). Pitkanen also was credited with four hits and managed to keep out of the penalty box this game while logging a team high 29 minutes of TOI.
The Canes outhit the Devils 36 - 21. Patrick Eaves led the way with six. Ruutu, LaRose, and Pitkanen had four each.
For the third straight game, New Jersey had more shots on goal than Carolina, (35-30).
Both teams get to do it all over again on Tuesday night. Will the Canes be able to take a lead?
Here is some video I took last night:
A shot of the crowd as Raleigh resident and former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher sounds the siren while the Hurricanes take the rink. (poor video but you get the idea).
Eric Staal's post game press interview from the dressing room: There are a few more people here than normal.
Paul Maurice in the coach's post game press conference: