NEWARK, N.J. -- There's something about the Stanley Cup Playoffs that brings out the offense in Mike Mottau.
The stay-at-home defenseman, who has five career goals in 179 regular-season games, scored his second postseason goal in just six playoff games Wednesday night at the Prudential Center. He scored the opening goal in the Devils' 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes when he gained control of the puck along the wall, made a nifty move around Hurricanes forward Chad LaRose and then beat Cam Ward with a low wrist shot from just inside the right point with 3:57 remaining in the first period.
"It was just getting pucks to the net in traffic," said Mottau, who also scored in last year's five-game series loss to the New York Rangers. "The forwards did a good job getting traffic in front of Ward. It was a seeing-eye wrist shot. It was nice to get the first goal and gain some momentum from that."
But what about the move around LaRose? Where did that come from?
"I knew it was a turnover and the guy was kind of closing in on me," Mottau said. "I tried to chip it to an area and get it through. It was real important, with the crowd into it. It was good to come out with the lead in the first period. I don't score too often. The other guys took over after that. (But) it's a good sign if I'm putting the puck in the net."
The puck appeared to dip before it got past Ward, although replays showed no signs of a redirection. Mottau was asked what could have caused the mysterious movement.
"I think it was just a lack of velocity," he joked.
After contributing some offense, Mottau and New Jersey's other defensemen did a spectacular job of shutting down Carolina's high-powered offense. The Devils didn't allow more than seven shots in any period and gave up just 19 for the game, making it a relatively-easy night for Martin Brodeur. New Jersey kept Carolina off the scoreboard until Ray Whitney made it a 3-1 game at 9:22 of the third period. Jamie Langenbrunner quickly took any momentum away from the Hurricanes, scoring 29 seconds later to restore the Devils' three-goal lead.
"Motts played very well," New Jersey coach Brent Sutter said. "It wasn't just the fact that he scored, it's how he got the goal. The play he made just inside the blue line and just getting the puck to the net. I don't think Cam saw it until the very end. I think a couple of guys crossed in front of him. But Motts made a very good play."
Moments after the puck got past Ward, Mottau jumped into the arms of defensive partner Colin White. It made Zach Parise smile from ear to ear, seeing Mottau so excited after the rare tally.
"That was a big goal for us," said Parise, who scored his first goal of the playoffs 59 seconds into the second period. "It gets the crowd excited and it gets the bench excited. We didn't look back from there. It was a great celebration from him, too. It was fun to watch. It looked like someone who just put in his 50th."
Much like Sutter, Langenbrunner was just as proud of Mottau for his defensive efforts as for his goal. The Massachusetts native was a plus-1 in 13:17 and helped keep the Hurricanes' high-octane offense at bay all night long.
"Some guys can rise up," Langenbrunner said. "He played great all night, even if he didn't score a goal. It was just a great job of playing defense and it was nice to see him get rewarded."
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The Devils' line of Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Jamie Langenbrunner put heavy pressure on the Hurricanes after the 13-minute mark of the first period, leading to Anton Babchuk's hooking penalty and Mike Mottau's unassisted power-play goal at 16:03.
Devils defenseman Paul Martin was on ice for 2:25 to open the third period, following Bryce Salvadore's second-period-ending cross-checking penalty. Martin skated through the entire successful penalty kill, at first with Colin White and then with regular partner Johnny Oduya. The Devils iced the puck shortly after the penalty ended and Martin skated another 25 seconds before a shift change.
The Hurricanes were being outplayed until the 9-minute mark of the first period when the line of Jussi Jokinen, Ray Whitney and Chad LaRose dominated the Devils' line of Dainius Zubrus, Brian Gionta and Brendan Shanahan. A TV stoppage followed that shift and the Devils dominated the rest of the period, finishing with a 15-7 shot advantage.
The Devils won only 45 percent of their faceoffs but 57 percent on the faceoffs when they were on power plays.
The high-speed play of the Carolina Hurricanes that has been dominating teams in recent weeks was absent, due to the coordinated team defense of the Devils. New Jersey blocked shots, intercepted passes and kept the Hurricanes on the perimeter on their rare sustained offensive thrusts.