Hurricanes thrash Devils 6-3

calexander@newsobserver.comMarch 9, 2013 

— It was a night of historical references Saturday as the Carolina Hurricanes topped the New Jersey Devils 6-3 at PNC Arena.

For the first time since March 2000, neither Cam Ward of the Canes nor Martin Brodeur was in net for a game between the two teams.

For the first time since April 2004, the Hurricanes had a player score a goal in his first NHL game.

Forward Chris Terry, called up Friday from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL, made his NHL debut even more memorable with a second-period score that everyone agreed was a "goal-scorer’s goal."

Jiri Tlusty had a pair of goals and an assist, Alexander Semin a goal and two assists and Dan Ellis had a sharp game in goal for the Canes, but Terry was the one getting all the backslaps after the game. And the puck, as a keepsake.

Terry first whacked the puck away from defenseman Adam Larsson in front of the crease. He collected the puck, put a shot on net that goalie Johan Hedberg stopped, then stuffed the puck back through a fallen Hedberg.

"It was a pretty special moment," Terry said. "The first shift was nice. Big crowd and lot of excitement. I got my legs under me and was fortunate enough to find the back of the net.

"It was kind of a blur for me after I scored. I didn’t know what to do. But it was definitely an exciting moment."

When the Hurricanes (14-9-1) followed up with a goal by Jeff Skinner, the lead had grown to 5-1. The sellout crowd that came out for Military Appreciation Night settled back to watch what many expected to be an easy win.

The Devils (11-9-5) didn’t cooperate. Two nights after a comeback win over the Buffalo Sabres, the Devils picked up quick goals from Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias early in the third to make it a 5-3 game and force Canes coach Kirk Muller to use his timeout.

"We’ve got a lot of young guys and we’re playing a team that just came off the Stanley Cup finals (last season)," Muller said. "They came after us with a playoff mentality and we just said, ’Hey, this is a learning experience again.’ We said, ’Settle down, let’s go back to playing our game and increase the tempo.’

"After that I thought we calmed down and got playing again and pulled it off for a big win."

It took a terrific save from Ellis to keep everything calm. With a little less than seven minutes left in regulation, Ellis lunged to his left to get his glove on a shot by the Devils’ Tom Kostopoulos, a former Hurricanes forward.

Ellis, who has been recovering from the flu, finished with 31 saves. He did it after cramping, after needing an IV after the second period.

Kovalchuk beat Ellis glove-side on a breakaway for a shorthanded goal in the first. His second came when the puck bounced off the skate of Canes defenseman Justin Faulk, who had a tough night, and the Elias goal was on a long redirection.

"They did a good job of getting pucks deep and then working a strong cycle," Ellis said of the Devils’ third-period push. "They got the puck up to the point, they moved it east and west. That’s a little more of their game.

"We were able to capitalize early and give ourselves a good enough cushion so that we could handle something like that in the third."

Semin scored a power-play goal in the first for a 1-0 lead, and defenseman Jay Harrison jumped into the rush to score later in the period. Tlusty’s first goal came early in the second period off the rush, on a nice pass from Semin, and his second on a strong move in the final two minutes for an empty-net score.

Skinner, who had assisted on Harrison’s goal, tipped the puck past Hedberg, who was lifted for Jeff Frazee after the second.

Skinner was happy for Terry, 23, who played 290 AHL games before getting his first look in the NHL. Terry, whose parents and sister were at the game, was the first Canes player to score in his debut since Brad Fast against Florida on April 4, 2004.

"Everyone would say you don’t forget your first goal," Skinner said.

The Hurricanes, rebounding from a 4-2 loss Thursday against Montreal, continue to lead the Southeast Division with 24 games left.

"It’s where we finish, not necessarily how we get there," Harrison said. "It’s about winning the winnable games and getting the points when you can."

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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