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Hurricanes trounce Devils in Game 1 beatdown

The Carolina Hurricanes smashed the New Jersey Devils, 5-1, in Game 1 Wednesday night at PNC Arena.

New Jersey Devils v Carolina Hurricanes - Game One Photo by Josh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images

If there were any concerns about how the Carolina Hurricanes were going to match up against the New Jersey Devils’ speed, the first 10 minutes of Game 1 Wednesday night put those fears to rest.

The Hurricanes dominated the Devils, giving them no space nor time to work with and took the first game of the series with ease.

It was the complete package for Carolina as the game featured five different Hurricanes goal scorers, a chased netminder, big hits and stifling defense on top of a stellar performance by Frederik Andersen who was getting his second straight start.

“We’ve got a couple of guys that we can go with,” said coach Rod Brind’Amour. “They’re both playing well. Freddy had a great game to close out the last series and again, talking to Paul [Schonfelder], we felt we could go either way, but let’s keep riding him at least for the start and see how he feels after the game. He didn’t have to be too good early, but then he made some big saves as the game went on. He did what he had to do.”

The first period really set the tone for the rest of the game.

Through 20 minutes, the Canes had outshot the Devils 10-1, outchanced them 18-7 and outscored them 2-0.

“We fed off the energy in the building which is always nice and I think we started in a way that set the tone for the rest of the game and even the second,” said Seth Jarvis. “We got kind of away from it, but the way we started really set it.”

The Hurricanes struck first, and has been the case all season, it was the blueline getting it done.

After a dominant offensive shift, Jordan Staal cleanly won a faceoff back to Brett Pesce who walked the line and let one fly through heavy traffic that Akira Schmid never saw.

“It was nice to find the back of the net,” Pesce said. “I saw a lane and I just tried to get it through. Sometimes you just get lucky and it goes in. It’s nice for us to contribute offensively.”

And it didn’t stop there.

The Carolina train kept rolling and next it was Jarvis leading the charge. The Hurricanes lost a D-zone faceoff, but Jarvis hustled out to the blueline and knocked the puck off of New Jersey defenseman Ryan Graves’ stick and he was off to the races.

Jarvis flew down the ice and called his shot, going top corner in close on Schmid.

“I’m like, ‘I gotta get going. I gotta move. I gotta move,’” Jarvis said. “I finally kind of was able to cut in and I knew he was probably going to play the pass, so a shot was my only option and I was lucky enough for it to go in.

“He’s a hot goalie and he’s been playing really well. You’ve gotta put it in a good spot, but high was my thought kind of the whole way through.”

“That was obviously the way you want to do it,” Brind’Amour said of the first period. “They’re coming off of an emotional series. Seven games. There was all the hype and then had to turn around and come right back at it and we’re sitting here resting. I was a little bit concerned that maybe the layoff… I didn’t know how we were going to respond, but you could see that we had a bit more legs. Credit to the guys who came ready to go.”

The momentum kept carrying into the second period where Jesperi Kotkaniemi joined in on the fun, netting his first postseason goal as member of the Carolina Hurricanes.

After Carolina came up with the puck after a board battle in the corner, Martinook and Kotkaniemi controlled the slot and Marty found KK on the backdoor for the tap in.

That would spell the end for the rookie who had been so good against the New York Rangers as Vitek Vanecek would come in following the third goal on just 11 shots.

The Devils started to build their game and broke the ice after a gaffe by the Canes. The fourth line failed to get a puck deep and New Jersey sent it back up into the offensive zone. Shayne Gostisbehere tried to body up at the blueline, but that left Nathan Bastian with an open lane and he finished in close on Andersen.

But despite that, the Devils failed to generate many dangerous chances with their top guys as the Hurricanes’ shutdown lines went to work, essentially neutralizing both Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes.

New Jersey’s top guys ended up a -2 and -3 respectively and had just three shots between them both.

“We had a plan of how we wanted to do it,” said Jordan Martinook. “Try to limit their rush chances as much as you can. That team thrives on when you get too aggressive and I thought we did a good job of being above it for the most part all night and trying to grind it out down low. It’s going to be hard, but I thought we did a pretty good job of it.”

Carolina on the other hand kept scoring goals.

The Hurricanes’ top line started to cycle down low in the offensive zone and it looked like Sebastian Aho was going to connect with a wide-open Seth Jarvis, but Aho lost the puck as he went for the pass.

However, Brady Skjei immediately drifted down from the blueline to the left circle and when Aho regained control of the puck, he instead passed it to the defenseman who sniped one home for his first of the postseason.

“I’ve been getting open in that spot quite a bit and just been confident with that shot throughout the season,” Skjei said. :Going to keep trying, though maybe I’ll switch it up a little bit, but if it’s working I’ll just keep shooting.”

The Hurricanes would ice the game as Jesper Fast scored into the empty net after a grown man shift by Jordan Staal did most of the heavy lifting.

The Hurricanes now take a 1-0 series lead with Game 2 on Friday, but nobody is expecting an easy series despite the dominant win.

“We know that New Jersey is going to play better,” Brind’Amour said. “I know that. After the first period, they showed that they’re a very scary team. For us to win, we’re going to have to have everybody contributing like tonight.”

“We’re going to need that the rest of the way,” Martinook said on the hot start. “That wasn’t their best. We know that and they’re going to be bringing a lot more and we’re going to have to be ready for the challenge.”

New Jersey has already erased a 2-0 series deficit once in these playoffs so the Hurricanes cannot underestimate the Devils and to be successful, they’re going to need to keep playing as hard as they did tonight.