Defenseman Justin Faulk scored his 13th goal of the season, his first at even strength, 8:17 into the third period to break a tie and help the Carolina Hurricanes defeat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 at PNC Arena on Saturday.
Faulk, whose first 12 goals this season came on the power play, was the trailer on a rush into the New Jersey zone; he took a pass from Eric Staal and snapped a shot from the high slot past Cory Schneider to break a 1-1 tie.
"He was due to get an even-strength goal," coach Bill Peters told the Hurricanes website. "He's had lots of opportunities."
Joakim Nordstrom scored his second goal of the season for Carolina with 3:14 remaining when he took a pass from Faulk and beat Schneider from above the left circle with a slap shot to make it 3-1. Rookie defenseman Brent Pesce also scored and Cam Ward made 19 saves for Carolina (14-16-5).
"Everyone was hungry," Nordstrom said. "We really wanted to come back and play well off the Christmas break."
Kyle Palmieri scored early in the third period for New Jersey (17-14-5), and Schneider finished with 22 saves.
The Devils, who defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on Tuesday, haven't won consecutive games since Nov. 12-14; they are 7-8-4 since victories against the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins.
"We've got through things all year long where things happen to come up," coach John Hynes said, according to Northjersey.com. "This is one of them where we haven't played consistently enough to win back-to-back games, so that's the challenge for us as a group to figure out how we're going to rectify it."
Each team had an excellent chance in the game's first minute. Schneider robbed Elias Lindholm on a wide-open wrist shot from the right faceoff dot 26 seconds after the opening faceoff, and after Staal took a slashing penalty nine seconds later, Ward stopped Palmieri's one-timer through traffic at the one-minute mark.
There weren't many scoring chances in the rest of the period. Schneider stopped Chris Terry on a rebound try with just more than seven minutes remaining, and Ward made a good save on Travis Zajac's wrister from the right dot with 3:45 remaining.
"He's been good for a while now," Peters said of Ward, who has allowed five goals in his past four starts. "It's an encouraging sign."
The Hurricanes began to dominate play near the midway point of the second period, and took the lead at 9:57 when Pesce's wrist shot from the right point went through a screen by Andrej Nestrasil and past Schneider, who never saw it. It was the third goal of season for the rookie defenseman.
"We had some real good shifts in the offensive zone, and I think that tired them out and we just capitalized," Pesce said. "They had kind of a long shift, and I saw [Nestrasil] in front and aimed for his stick, and it went in."
The Devils went 10:23 without a shot on goal before Tyler Kennedy tested Ward from the right wing in the final minute of the period after Carolina had taken 10 consecutive shots.
"You go 10 minutes without a shot on net, that means there's no offensive accountability and determination, and we're obviously spending too much time in our D-zone," Hynes said.
Carolina nearly doubled its lead 32 seconds into the third period when Lindholm beat Schneider but hit the post. New Jersey got even at 1:18 when Palmieri came out from the post to Ward's right and scored on a wraparound. The goal was his team-leading 15th, a career-high.
With the teams coming off the Christmas break and each team taking only one minor penalty, Peters said he was more cognizant of making sure to keep shifts short and spread the ice time.
"We wanted to make sure we played everybody," he said. "If you noticed guys getting caught out on a long shift, it hurt them on the next shift. We made sure we played everybody, and the guys found a way to contribute.
Carolina plays at the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. The Devils are idle until the Hurricanes come to Prudential Center on Tuesday.
"We've got a couple days here to get better and make sure we're a better team on Tuesday," Hynes said. "We didn't play one of our better games and we didn't execute with the puck well enough offensively to be able to create some things, so we've got to be better."