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Hurricanes shut down Devils for convincing Game 1 win

May 4, 2023, 3:56 PM ET [10 Comments]
Ben Shelley
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The Carolina Hurricanes opened their second round series with a win last night, defeating the New Jersey Devils 5-1 at home.

Frederik Andersen was back in net for the Hurricanes, following his strong Game 6 performance to lead Carolina past the New York Islanders. Jack Drury also came back into the lineup in place of Mackenzie MacEachern, and the Hurricanes once again changed up the look of their lines.

Stefan Noesen moved up to play with Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis on the top line, while Drury took Noesen’s spot alongside Jordan Staal and Martin Necas. Jesperi Kotkaniemi was centering Jordan Martinook and Jesper Fast once again though, while the fourth line of Paul Stastny, Derek Stepan and Jesse Puljujarvi remained intact.

The Hurricanes couldn’t have started the game much better, coming out flying right away. The teams traded penalties and Sebastian Aho had an early breakaway, but the scoring didn’t open until midway through the frame, when Brett Pesce snuck a point shot through traffic to beat Akira Schmid. Then only five minutes later, Seth Jarvis got past Ryan Graves to go down ice and score on a partial break, putting Carolina up by two. The Hurricanes ended up with a late power play and while they couldn’t extend the lead further, it was still an absolutely dominant period, giving up only a single shot to the Devils.

Carolina picked up right where they left off in the second frame, with Jordan Martinook finding himself all alone in front of the Devils’ net after Jonas Siegenthaler left the ice without a helmet, and Martinook slid the puck to Jesperi Kotkaniemi for an easy tap-in goal. That marked the end of Schmid’s night, with Vanecek entering the game in relief.

The Devils did get on the board only a few minutes later, as Nathan Bastian took a pass to go in alone and beat Andersen on New Jersey’s second shot of the game. While the Devils started to generate some shots as the frame went on, arguably the best chances in the back half of the period came on a Carolina power play.

New Jersey did then have some opportunities in the first half of the third period as well, but midway through the frame, Brady Skjei one-timed a shot past Vanecek to put Carolina back up by three, killing any chance of a comeback. All momentum for the Devils died from there, as the Hurricanes completely limited any more chances and Jesper Fast added a late empty netter, as Carolina held on for the 5-1 win.

You couldn’t ask for a better start to the series for the Hurricanes.

As I noted in the series preview article yesterday, if the Hurricanes are going to beat the Devils, we know they’re probably doing it in lower-scoring games, eliminating as many chances as possible. We saw this play out last night, with the Hurricanes completely controlling the first period and giving up nothing at all. Carolina went on to allow only 18 shots, against a team who averaged 34 shots per game this season.

You have to wonder how much the break played a role, though. The Hurricanes had five days off between games, while the Devils had just two days, which certainly could’ve played a role in New Jersey’s slow start. It seemed like they had a really tough time using their speed to get anything going off the rush. Regardless, it was an excellent effort from Carolina.

While Carolina’s go-to third line of Martinook-Staal-Fast was great for the team this year, swapping in Kotkaniemi works too, with the line managing an expected goals percentage of 62 per cent last night (according to NaturalStatTrick.com). Meanwhile, Seth Jarvis and Stefan Noesen continue to add offense in elevated roles, given the absences up front.

It was also good to see the Hurricanes get some offense from the blue line. For a defense group who really chipped in during the regular season, Carolina didn’t get a ton from the blue line in the first round offensively, and tallies from both Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei last night mark goals No. 2 and 3 from Carolina defensemen this postseason.

With the win, the Hurricanes’ playoff success at home continues. We can expect the Devils to come out with a better effort in Game 2, but the Hurricanes showed they're capable of really shutting down New Jersey's offense.

Game 2 is set for Friday night.



Hurricanes set to face Devils in second round
Previewing the Hurricanes’ second round series against the Devils
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