Brian Compton | NHL.com Staff Writer
NEWARK, N.J. -- One team may have lost its captain. The other may have regained its mojo.
More than a full period after the New Jersey Devils lost captain Jamie Langenbrunner to a lower body injury, Tim Gleason scored 2:40 into overtime on Friday night as the Carolina Hurricanes evened the best-of-7 series at one win apiece with a 2-1 victory in Game 2 at the Prudential Center.
Langenbrunner, who had 29 goals during the regular season, went down late in the second period and did not return -- coach Brent Sutter said he would be re-evaluated and wasn't sure if the veteran forward would be on the team plane to Carolina for Game 3. Langenbrunner's caused Sutter to reshuffle his lines against a Carolina team that was clearly more physical than it was in a 4-1 series-opening loss on Wednesday.
The Hurricanes dominated the overtime - one of two games on the night that needed an extra session - keeping the puck in New Jersey's end for more than a minute on the shift before Gleason's tally. Gleason, who made his postseason debut in Game 1, took a pass from Joe Corvo and beat a heavily screened Martin Brodeur with a low shot from inside the point that allowed Carolina to gain home-ice advantage in the series.
"I've never played in a playoff series before," Gleason said after the Hurricanes improved to 5-0 against the Devils in their four playoff series. "It was exciting. The best part about it was we came out ready to play as a team -- and as a team, we won this game. As a team, we're going to win this series, and I'm looking forward to it."
Carolina, which recorded only 19 shots on Wednesday, had 32 in Game 2 and outshot New Jersey 5-0 in OT.
"That was closer to the game that we've been playing for a long time," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. "We beat the Islanders 9-0 and didn't score at even strength for three more games. When you're on the bench you're thinking, 'Please stop the next five shots because we don't want to score anymore.' I think it affected the way we approach our offensive game."
But the different approach that Carolina took on Friday -- one that featured thunderous hits all over the ice -- paid massive dividends for the team that put together a nine-game winning streak late in the regular season. What made the Hurricanes so successful? Simple. They threw pucks at the net, much as they did Friday night.
"I just tried to get it to the net, hoping it goes in or hits somebody and goes in," said Gleason, who was scoreless in 70 regular-season games and hadn't turned on the red light since March 8, 2008. "I don't score many goals. That's not my job to score goals. Obviously, I shot it and we got the win tonight."
Zach Parise scored his second goal in as many games for the Devils, deflecting home Paul Martin's power-play shot 10:44 into the game. But New Jersey failed to convert on its final advantages -- one of the key reasons why it heads to Carolina with a split rather than a 2-0 series lead.
"Our power play was still pretty good. We had some chances on it," Sutter said. "They made some adjustments on their PK, and we made some adjustments once we got into the game. It would have been nice to score another goal, but we did get one on it and they got one on it."
That came with just 24.7 seconds remaining in the first period, when Eric Staal notched his first of the playoffs. After Travis Zajac was whistled for his second straight penalty, Ray Whitney fired a shot that missed the net but rocketed off the end boards and bounced right back in front to Staal, who slammed it into a wide-open net to tie the game.
"Right from the drop of the puck, we had a different mindset than we did in the first game," Gleason said. "Our goal was to set the tone early. They are a patient, defensive, well-respected team and there's a reason they are in the playoffs every single year. They are going to wait for our mistakes. We didn't make many tonight. We got pucks to the net and we got the traffic. That's how we got the win."
New Jersey's Dainius Zubrus took an interference penalty with 8:02 remaining in the third period. Paul Martin, Colin White, Jay Pandolfo and John Madden were on the ice for 1:40 after a 20-second shift by Mike Mottau, Johnny Oduya, Brendan Shanahan and Brian Gionta; they kept the Hurricanes without a shot during the power play.
On their power play at the end of the first period, Hurricanes defenseman Joe Corvo absorbed a big hit from out-of-position Devils defenseman Colin White at the right point in order to make a cross-ice pass to Sergei Samsonov at the left point. Samsonov passed to Ray Whitney, whose shot went wide to the right of Martin Brodeur, rebounded off the boards and was knocked into the net for the 1-1 tying goal by Eric Staal with 24 seconds left in the period. Corvo didn't see the goal as he was still climbing out of the Devils bench. They don't give credit for the "third assist" but Corvo made the play happen.
With 5:06 left in the second period, Jamie Langenbrunner took a 55-foot slap shot from the left point and it appeared he hyperextended his right knee. Langenbrunner skated to his bench with 4:35 remaining and was replaced on the point by Brian Rolston. Langenbrunner sat on the bench for about a minute and then went to the dressing room. He did not return.
Carolina took only 19 shots in Wednesday's 4-1 loss. They had 27 shots in regulation in Game 2 and took all five in overtime.
The Hurricanes couldn't find skating room in their 4-1 loss in Game 1. They talked for two days about finding ways to open up room to show their speed. Instead, they came out hitting. It wasn't their speed that helped them Friday, it was their grit. Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice questioned the standards used by the NHL to count hits, said it was a subjective standard and that their own count credited them with more hits. On Friday, through two periods, Tuomo Ruutu was credited with three hits. To the untrained eye, it seemed more like a dozen. Ruutu can be a skilled player, but on Friday he was a banger and it had an effect.
1 - 0 NJD
1 - 1 Tie
1st OT Period
2 - 1 CAR
Interference - Goalkeeper