Devils 4, Hurricanes 1
Elias, the franchise points leader in both the regular and postseason, celebrates his goal Wednesday.
The Devils got the start they wanted and never took their foot off the gas pedal.
Mike Rupp said the Devils had "swagger" and a "controlled arrogance." It resulted in Jersey's Team dominating the opener of their first-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes – they built a 3-0 lead before capturing a 4-1 victory in Wednesday's Game One.
and Zach Parise
each had a goal and an assist, while Patrik Elias
, the Devils' all-time leading postseason scorer, added his 40th career playoff marker.
Mike Mottau's second goal in six postseason games was the all-important first tally of the Devils' first-ever playoff triumph at Prudential Center. In front of a sellout crowd, New Jersey outshot the Hurricanes 30-13 through two periods, and 39-19 for the game.
"It was really important," Mottau said. "You get the crowd into it, and our forecheck was going. It was good to come out with the lead in the first period."
held up his end of the deal with 18 saves for his 96th career postseason victory. The four-time Vezina Trophy winner carried a bid for his 23rd playoff shutout 9:22 into the third period, when Ray Whitney scored Carolina's lone goal.
The series continues with Friday's Game Two in Newark.
"We played well," Brodeur said. "They didn't sustain too much offense on us. It's a credit not just to our offense the way we played, but the way we were able to move the puck. We didn't turn the puck over much, and that makes a big difference. Those guys feed off of that, they're a quick team, a transition team. We played a good game and it made my job a lot easier, that's for sure."
Brodeur surpassed Patrick Roy as the winningest goaltender in NHL history with his 552nd win last month, and will tie Roy's all-time mark (23) with his next postseason shutout. But Brodeur had only one thing on his mind during the game.
"Playoff wins, that's what it's all about," Brodeur said. "Shutouts, they're nice, but that comes at the end. I only think about these things at the end. This game was all about winning."
Head coach Brent Sutter's squad secured a convincing postseason win at the Rock after dropping three home games in last year's first-round loss to the New York Rangers.
The Devils played a disciplined contest and killed both Carolina power plays. New Jersey allowed seven man-advantage goals to the Hurricanes in 16 opportunities during the regular season.
"Through and through, we had contributions from everyone," Sutter said. "We were pretty precise in how we wanted to play. We know our opponent is a very tough opponent, and we need to be a very disciplined team in everything that we do."
A Carolina bench minor for too many men helped establish the tone 37 seconds into the game. Though the Devils went 0-for-4 on the power play, they peppered Cam Ward with 13 shots with the man advantage.
Ward, 3-0 against New Jersey during the regular season, finished with 35 saves. He lost for the second time in six postseason meetings with New Jersey, including his 4-1 mark in their 2006 semifinal series.
"We did a good job moving it around," Parise said of the Devils' power play. "We're doing everything but scoring, but it's going to go in for us. It's getting there. You get a little feel for the puck, snap it around a little bit and get yourself into the game. It'd be great to score right away, but you get everyone in the game, get some good chances, get the crowd into it. Other than scoring it was a great power play."
Langenbrunner, named the game's First Star, squashed hopes of a Carolina rally when he answered Whitney's goal 29 seconds later to restore the Devils' three-goal lead at 4-1.
"It was nice to respond real well after (Whitney's) goal," Brodeur said. "We could've been in a little trouble. They had a chance at the net, they had a couple of whacks at it, everybody missed the puck and go back to the other end and score. These are good signs for my team."
Paul Martin started the play from his own zone, controlling the puck moments after a netmouth scramble in front of Brodeur. Martin worked pass to Parise to set up Langenbrunner's shot over Ward's glove from the slot at 9:51.
"We did a good job of creating a forecheck and putting pressure on them," Langenbrunner said. "We forced them to take penalties and by doing that opened things up in the second period, where maybe we weren't getting the power plays, but it was tougher for them because they knew were creating (chances). We just have to continue to do that."
Mottau's wrister from the top of the right circle made it 1-0 in the first. Mottau intercepted Ward's clearing pass up the boards, and threaded a shot through traffic that beat Ward to his glove side at 16:03.
Mottau's first of the playoffs was his second career postseason goal. The defenseman made his NHL playoff debut last year and had one goal in 80 appearances this season.
"I was just getting up the ice trying to close the gap, and it was a turnover inside their blueline," Mottau said. "I chipped it to myself and tried to get it on net. There was a lot of traffic, and it found the back of the net."
Parise put the Devils ahead by a pair 59 seconds into the middle frame. The Devils' leading scorer in the regular season walked out of the right corner and slipped his first of the playoffs under Ward for a 2-0 New Jersey advantage.
Elias one-timed a Brian Gionta pass from the top of the left circle and beat Ward over his blocker side for a commanding three-goal advantage at 11:33 of the second.
Whitney broke up the shutout after the Hurricanes got the puck deep off a draw in the Devils' zone. Chad LaRose had a swipe in front of Brodeur, and Whitney came around the right post to backhand the puck into the open side.
Brendan Shanahan took a Colin White
shot in the face with three minutes to go in the first period, and went to the locker room for repairs. He returned in the second period, and after the game was unsure about the stitch count in his lip and chin.
"I didn't ask how many," said Shanahan, whose teeth survived. "They're a little loose but it sort of pushed them back into place. Hopefully they stay."
• Rupp was a healthy scratch in the Devils' final two games of the regular season, but got into Wednesday's lineup and skated with Brian Rolston
and David Clarkson
. He was excited to be back in action.
"Obviously I want to be a part of it," Rupp said. "It's been an exciting team to be a part of all year. You kind of go through the ups and downs with the guys, and I like the way we came out tonight."
Rupp hadn't realized that Wednesday's game represented the Devils' first playoff win at the Rock.
"It was big," he said. "You want to win Game One. We didn't do that (in last year's opening-round loss to the Rangers) and you dig yourself a little bit of a hole. Now we know we've done that, but we have to go get Game Two.
|Three star selections