To a man, including their coach, the Hurricanes analyzed Game 5 as a goaltender duel in which New Jersey got a power-play goal and they didn't. Martin Brodeur made 44 saves for New Jersey and Cam Ward made 41 saves for Carolina. The goal that decided the game came on an Andy Greene shot through traffic that David Clarkson redirected. Ward had no chance.
"You can't hang your head on a game like that," Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour said. "It was a good game, a good effort. If we get one power-play goal, that's the difference in the game. Normally, if we only give up one (goal), we're in good shape. Marty played great. We'll be happy if we get that many scoring chances again.
"It was a great goaltending match and their special-teams got one goal and ours didn't. That was the difference."
First-line right winger Tuomo Ruutu felt too much emphasis was placed on the idea of a goaltending duel. He feels the teams are evenly matched throughout their lineups.
"It was the Carolina Hurricanes against the New Jersey Devils, it wasn't just about goalies," Ruutu said. "Both goalies are great. Marty is great and Cam is one of the greatest goalies in the world. At the end, it's Devils against Hurricanes and that's the way you have to play, as a team."
Caroline coach Paul Maurice agreed, saying Brodeur got plenty of help from his teammates and so did Ward.
"Both teams played well and that's the reason for (the low score)," Maurice said. "To say that we played well and deserved to win I don't think is necessarily accurate. It was an evenly-played game, a one-shot game, and that's the way that went. They were very good early and we were very good late. That's about it. I won't come away from that game saying we got robbed. Our guy did it to them, too.
"They blocked 22 shots and the big bulk of them came on power plays. That was a big part of it."
The Devils had a 29-19 shot advantage when they scored at 11:22 of the second period. Carolina then outshot the Devils, 9-2, through the end of the second period and 25-13 through the end of the game. Ward thought the Hurricanes had several good chances to score as time waned. He cited Jussi Jokinen's tip of a Ryan Bayda shot in the second period that nearly gave Carolina the game's first goal, 90 seconds before New Jersey scored.
"We had a couple of great opportunities. Rod was excellent on the faceoff draws. We threw a lot of pucks at the net," Ward said. "Sometimes you get bounces and sometimes you don't. You look at that second period with that (Jokinen) deflection off the post and it hit Marty in the back. That's how close a game it was, it could have gone either way."