Five takeaways from the Carolina Hurricanes’ 3-1 win Friday over the New Jersey Devils.
— There’s a different vibe in the Carolina Hurricanes’ locker room. One can sense it.
“We’re playing with some swag, some confidence, and that’s good to see,” goalie Cam Ward said after the 3-1 Friday over the New Jersey Devils.
Having Jordan Staal back is a relief to everyone, from Canes coach Bill Peters to Staal’s teammates to others in the organization. The death of Staal’s infant daughter, Hannah, last week due to a terminal birth defect affected everyone.
But the Canes beat Philadelphia one night, then the Devils the next to move up in the Eastern Conference.
“Jordo back has given us life,” Ward said. “It’s crunch time. We’re in this together. We’re in the fight.”
— Teuvo Teravainen has had good games and not-so-good this season, either being one of the most dynamic players on the ice or one of more invisible.
But the Canes forward is playing his best hockey of the past two seasons, with five goals and an assist in the past six games. He leads the team in points (51) and assists (33) and his 18 goals are a career high.
Teravainen went to the front of the net and had a Brett Pesce shot go off his leg for the game-winning goal Friday, his third of the season.
“It’s an exciting time of the year and every goal is huge and there’s a lot of one-goal games,” he said. “You have to find ways to score.”
Teravainen said the Canes were “more dialed in” and physical the past two games, adding, “That’s the right way we have to keep playing.”
— It’s always intriguing to watch opposing coaches play their game within a game.
The Canes’ Bill Peters went back to the defensive pairing of Jaccob Slavin and Pesce to match up against the Devils’ top line of Nico Hischier at center with Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri. Slavin and Pesce were so effective — Hall did not have a shot in the first period — that Devils coach John Hynes flipped centers, moving Travis Zajac on to the line with Hall and Palmieri and using Hischier with wingers Michael Grabner and Stefan Noesen.
Hischier had two shots in the game and Hall was held to one, albeit scoring on a second-period redirection.
— At first glance, it seemed like there were two Cam Wards in the Canes’ locker room Friday.
Stick a cap on former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and he looks a lot like Ward. And with the same bit of stubble.
At 34, Ward is a bit younger that Romo, who is 37. He’s also doing what he can to get the Canes back into the playoff mix, beating the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday and then the Devils with 25 saves.
Play back-to-back games? Ward is fine with that. Make it three in four days by playing again Sunday against Winnipeg? He’s up for that, too.
“I feel good,” Ward said. “I didn’t face a ton of work (against Philadelphia) and felt capable, if called upon, to play again tonight.”
Ward made a timely kick save on a Devils power play in the third period that he called “a little old school, a little Tom Barrasso,” referring to the former NHL goalie and once the Canes goalie coach.
— Some rough ice Friday at PNC Arena made for some weird bounces and was tough on Ward and Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid.
“I’m not sure the ice was the best I’ve ever seen it,” Canes coach Bill Peters said. “Seemed like the puck was in the air a lot, bouncing around a little bit. But I thought we got going and were dangerous.”
It was more a gritty, tight-checking game than anything smooth. Go to the net, hunt down rebounds, play the body, work hard for a bounce. That kind of game.
“I thought our execution was good in a building that kind of has some tough ice,” Ward said. “We stuck with it.”