Hurricanes 4, Devils 3
It was a stunning rally capped by an even more shocking finish.
The Devils had completed an incredible three-goal comeback and were less than a second away from heading to overtime when Game 4 got away.
Carolina's Jussi Jokinen broke a 3-3 tie with 0.2 seconds remaining in regulation, redirecting a Dennis Seidenberg slapshot to send the Devils to a frustrating 4-3 loss Tuesday in Raleigh.
Jokinen made contact with Martin Brodeur
at the top of the crease moments before coming up with the deciding tally.
"Once again it's always that debate on what rules are being called out there, but it is what it is," said Brodeur, who finished with 42 saves, including 21 in the second period.
A video review upheld the call that the puck had crossed the line before time expired. Afterward, Brodeur sought an explanation from referees regarding Jokinen's contact and was told that he had time to reset himself before Seidenberg's shot arrived.
"That's always the same answer, it doesn't matter which referee it is," Brodeur said. "That's the easy way out for them."
The Devils battled all the way back from a 3-0 second-period deficit with three straight strikes, taking the play to Carolina in the final frame.
Brian Gionta had a goal and an assist and started the surge with 28 seconds remaining in the second period. Gionta beat Cam Ward's stick side for his second marker in as many games.
Following three games in which Zach Parise
(3g-2a) and Travis Zajac
(1g-2a) got off to hot starts, it was the Devils' depth that came to their rescue on Tuesday.
Brendan Shanahan notched his 60th career postseason goal before David Clarkson
's first playoff tally knotted the contest at 3 with 11:14 remaining in regulation. New Jersey outshot Carolina 12-9 in the third period after allowing 37 shots through the opening 40 minutes.
Four games have determined that the Devils and Hurricanes are as evenly matched as many predicted heading into their opening round series. The best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinal stands tied at two games apiece with Game 5 set for Thursday at Prudential Center.
"It's definitely a disappointing loss, but we didn't lose anything today," said Brodeur. "We still have home ice advantage. We lost a game, that's it."
The Devils sit in the driver's seat with two of the remaining three games to be hosted at the Rock should the series go to a seventh game. They're now guaranteed at least a return trip to Raleigh for Sunday's Game 6.
"It's a 2-2 series, we knew it was going to be a tough and that's what it is," head coach Brent Sutter said. "It's a battle."
Though disappointed in Tuesday's outcome, Sutter was pleased with his team's two-game body of work in Carolina. Sunday's 3-2 OT win in Game 3 snapped the Devils' seven-game postseason losing streak at RBC Center and gave New Jersey its first overtime win over Carolina in six playoff chances.
"We had to come in here and win a game and we did that to get back home ice (advantage)," Sutter said. "We accomplished that and we played extremely well in the last period to give ourselves a chance to try and win tonight – we lost with 0.2 seconds to go.
"There's still a lot of positives here in the last 48 hours or so. We came into a building and found a way to win a game, then found a way to lose a game with 0.2 seconds. But it's back to even up, and we're going back to our home now."
Game 4 marked the first time in the series that the Devils would have to play from behind.
Eric Staal and Ryan Bayda scored for Carolina in a 1:03 span of the first period, and the Hurricanes extended their lead in the middle frame on Chad LaRose's second goal in as many games.
Seidenberg had two helpers in his first appearance after being scratched in two straight games. His rush into Devils' territory started the sequence that resulted in Staal's second of the series. Seidenberg tipped a Tuomo Ruutu shot before Staal chipped in the rebound at 7:44 of the first.
Bayda scored in a second straight game when he one-timed Scott Walker's pass from the slot at 8:47.
In the second, LaRose buried his own rebound as Bayda crashed the net at 6:30.
Down 3-1, Shanahan's first of the series brought New Jersey within one. Three seconds after Erik Cole's boarding minor had expired, Gionta fired on Ward from the left circle, and Shanahan put home the rebound at 4:21.
Clarkson showed tremendous poise for the Devils' tying goal 4:25 later. Paul Martin's shot was tipped in front by Bobby Holik, and Clarkson calmly controlled the puck at the left side of the net, then curled toward the front to lift the puck over Ward at 8:46.
(lower body) missed his second straight game and is listed as day-to-day. ... Bryce Salvador
left the game with three minutes left in the second period and did not return. ... Paul Martin has an assist in all four games of the series. ... The Devils went 0-for-3 on the PP and are 1-for-17 in the series. New Jersey's PK has held Carolina to one goal on 14 opportunities. ... Jersey's Team is 6-1 all-time at home when heading into a Game 5 tied at two games apiece.
|Three star selections