NEWARK, N.J. (AP) After saying goodbye to several stars before the NHL trade deadline, the new-look Carolina Hurricanes got off to a good start with some unexpected help.
They got a goal from a 29-year-old playing in his first NHL game, a sensational effort from a goalie who sat out the previous six games and an amazing juggling act with his stick by Elias Lindholm to set up the winning goal in a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
Joakim Nordstrom scored on a rebound with 1:29 left, Eddie Lack made 29 saves and Derek Ryan made the most of his NHL debut as the Hurricanes snapped a three-game skid and won for the third time in eight games.
''It's just one of those moments you dream of as a kid, playing the game, let alone scoring a goal,'' said Ryan, who has spent all season at Charlotte in the AHL. ''It's emotions you can't really describe. It's unbelievable and something I will cherish the rest of my life.''
Ryan was on a plane Monday when he found out he was being called up. He telephoned his wife and she cried. She was at the game with his son, father and sister.
It was all the result of the Hurricanes' new look. With their playoff hopes dwindling, they traded away captain Eric Staal, forward Kris Versteeg and defenseman John-Michael Liles, and lost Andrej Nestrasil to a back injury last week.
With the score tied at 1, Lindholm took an arcing pass from defenseman Jaccub Slavin, juggled the puck on his stick at center ice and skated in on Cory Schneider. The goalie stopped his shot but Nordstrom was in the right spot when the puck came to him to the left of the net.
''That was a sick play by Elias,'' Nordstrom said. ''I think he knocked it out of midair twice and kept going and the puck just bounced out to me, so I was just trying to get it on net.''
Nathan Gerbe scored into an empty net with 21.2 seconds to go to ice the game.
Adam Henrique scored for New Jersey, which lost its third straight and sixth in seven games.
''Again, it's tough,'' said Schneider, who made 17 saves. ''We have to get out of this little funk here. Like I said, I thought we did a lot of good things and had the game right there. We just have to find a way next time.''
Lack, whose last start was on Feb. 18, kept the Hurricanes in the game during a one-sided third period, with New Jersey holding a 12-7 edge in shots. He stopped Kyle Palmieri coming out in front from the side of the net and later a rebound attempt in close by Reid Boucher in the final 7 minutes.
''I thought Eddie stood on his head,'' Ryan said. ''I don't think that can be overstated enough because he played unbelievable. Look at the shots - they outshot us by a lot in the first, second and third periods and Eddie gave us a chance and Joakim came though.''
With Carolina in the waning seconds of a power play, Ryan took a pass from Slavin near the right point, skated unopposed to the dot in the circle and unleashed a shot that Schneider never came close to stopping.
Jeff Skinner immediately skated to the net and retrieved the puck for Ryan, who played his first four pro seasons in Europe before signing with Carolina. He had 17 goals in 55 games with Charlotte.
The Devils took the lead at 10:54 of the first period when Henrique scored his 20th of the season on a double deflection.
NOTES: Earlier in the day, Carolina GM Ron Francis said Nestrasil (nine goals) will miss the rest of the season with a broken vertebra. He was hurt last week in a loss at Toronto. ... The Hurricanes also recalled D Ryan Murphy and F Brock McGinn from Charlotte. Ryan and McGinn started, and Murphy also was in the lineup. ... Devils newcomers Devante Smith-Pelly and David Warsofsky were not in the lineup. ... Henrique's goal was his first in nine games.