Tlusty's two goals propel Canes to 4-2 win over Devils

calexander@newsobserver.comFebruary 12, 2013 

Jiri Tlusty scored another two goals.

Cam Ward had another sharp game in net.

Eric Staal extended his point streak to 10 games, and the Canes again came up with a strong 60-minute - or this night, even longer - effort to close a successful six-game road trip with a 4-2 win Tuesday over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center in Newark.

The Hurricanes (7-4-1) were 4-1-1 on what will be their longest road swing of the condensed NHL season. That's nine of a possible 12 points, maintaining Carolina's lead atop the Southeast Division. And it ended with a win over a Devils team that had won five straight games and leads the Eastern Conference.

"It's been a great road trip for us and we knew this would be the toughest challenge, as well as New Jersey is playing," Canes coach Kirk Muller said. "We thought it would be a good measuring stick for us.

"I'm really proud of our guys, the way they've dug it. They've battled to find points and win games on the road. That's put us in a good position to start off."

Ward, starting for the second straight night, had 26 stops in another duel against the Devils' Martin Brodeur. Jussi Jokinen scored his first goal of the season and Pat Dwyer picked up his fourth, both in the second period, for the Canes.

Tlusty's power-play goal at 7:25 gave the Canes a 3-2 lead and was the game-winner. It came on short shot to the left of Brodeur off a pass from Staal. Tlusty, who scored twice and had a four-point game Monday as the Canes topped the New York Islanders 6-4, added an empty-net goal to seal the victory.

"Staalsy had two guys on him and he found me right in front of the net," Tlusty said. "It was a quick play but luckily it went in."

The power-play goal by Tlusty came after the Devils had tied the score 2-2 early in the third on Ryan Carter's goal after a Canes turnover. Mark Fayne was called for interference at 6:31 of the third - Jeff Skinner drawing the interference penalty on Fayne and getting a stick to the chin for his efforts.

The Devils (8-2-3) nearly tied the score with 55 seconds left in regulation, the puck trickling just past the post to Ward's left as Ward desperately fought to keep it out of the net.

"They turned it up a notch after that second intermission and came out firing," Ward said of the Devils. "To be able to respond after they got that tying goal and capitalize on our power play was huge.

"It was a gutsy effort by our team. We're definitely headed in the right direction and want to keep it going. It's been a long trip, 12 days. To finish against the first-place Devils and walk away with two points is a huge confidence-builder."

The Canes played the third period without defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who left late in the second with a lower-body injury. Muller said after the game that he did not know of the severity of Pitkanen's injury.

"Losing (Pitkanen) was a big blow for us tonight," Muller said.

The Devils led 1-0 after the first period, on a power-play goal by Ilya Kovalchuk. Play continued after Kovalchuk's hard blast - the initial ruling was the puck hit the crossbar. After a few minutes, play finally was stopped by a whistle, a review was held and the ruling made that Kovalchuk did score.

The clock was reset to the time of the score, with 4:01 left in the first, meaning the first period had added time and made for a 60-plus-minute game.

Jokinen scored on the power play in the second, and Dwyer redirected a blast by Jay Harrison.

"I think we have a strong team. All four lines are showing what they can do ... and we are all pulling on one rope," Tlusty said.

The Canes finally return home for a Thursday game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"They learned that they're finding ways to win games," Muller said of his team. "It hasn't been pretty some nights. They're coming together. We're getting chemistry built each game."

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