And they were rewarded with an overtime goal from perhaps the unlikeliest of sources in a 2-1 victory to even the playoff series at 1-1.
Two minutes and 40 seconds into overtime, with the Hurricanes' outworking the Devils in the zone for most of the extra frame, defenseman Tim Gleason fired a one-timer from the point into traffic and scored his first goal of the season. As important as the shot was, Eric Staal's screen in front of Devils' goalie Martin Brodeur opened the path for the game-winner.
"You've got to get to the front of the net, especially against a great goaltender like Marty," Staal said. "Playoff goals are scored that way. It's about getting the top of the crease and taking those shots from the point and battling for rebounds."
From the start of the extra frame, Carolina controlled the ice, keeping the puck deep in the Devils zone, getting the only three scoring chances of the period. "I think we got caught on our heels a little bit, running around a couple times," Devils defenseman Paul Martin said. "We didn't do a good enough job of being patient and getting the pucks out when we needed to.... It wasn't the way we had been playing all game."
It was a better showing from the Hurricanes, who admitted they weren't satisfied at all with their Game 1 performance. "If it looked like there was a strategic difference it was just based on our last game because we didn't play our game of even come close to it," Carolina coach PaulMaurice said. "At the end of the day, we just played a playoff game, and we didn't the other night."
From the start, the Hurricanes showed that they weren't afraid to be more physical, finishing checks and standing ground in front of the Devils net. And although they paid with time in the penalty box, New Jersey didn't collect, unable to convert on its last four power plays. Despite creating chances, the Devils failed to bury one on Carolina goalie Cam Ward, who made necessary saves to even the series as the teams take to Raleigh.
"I think [tonight's game] was more like what we were expecting of this series," said Hurricanes winger Erik Cole.
Yes, this was much more like what we all were expecting, a tight game with great goaltending, impressive defensive plays and strong, physical play.
With about five minutes left in the second period, Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner, on the left point for the power play, appeared to tweak his right knee or groin while taking a hard shot. He limped off to the dressing room and didn't return to the game. The absence necessitated some line juggling, and Brent Sutter brought wingers Patrik Elias and Brian Rolston up, but didn't indicate the seriousness of Langenbrunner's injury. ...With Langenbrunner out, Zach Parise found himself on the ice a bit more. The winger logged 24:29, almost two minutes more than any other New Jersey forward. He also led the Devils with six shots. ...Despite New Jersey's inability to cash in on Carolina penalties late in the game, the Devils scored their only goal on the power play in the first period. Actually, the puck found the back of the net twice in fact. First, 31 seconds into the power play, Parise batted a chest-level rebound behind Ward, but the goal was immediately disallowed as a high-stick. But just 26 seconds later, Parise put one in legally, deflecting a point shot by Martin up into the net. ...Maurice subbed in left wing Ryan Bayda in place of Tim Conboy in tonight's lineup, and went on to praise the fourth line for taking some strong minutes, which helped give their top lines a little relief.