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Hurricanes 3, Devils 2, OT @NHLdotcom

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Niclas Wallin skated by the defense and found goalie Martin Brodeur in his way. A couple of seconds later, the puck was in the net, and Wallin was leaping into the welcoming arms of his teammates.

How did it happen?

"I don't know," Wallin said with a big smile. "But I'll take it."

So will the Carolina Hurricanes.

Wallin had the puck knocked off his stick during a rush early in the extra period, but it bounced off his skate through Brodeur's legs at 3:09 to help the Hurricanes beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 Monday night and take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

A video review upheld Wallin's first goal of the playoffs.

"Everybody can get the puck to the net, that's what the playoffs are about," he said. "Call me the secret weapon."

It simply was the latest unlucky bounce for Brodeur. In the opener, neither of Carolina's first two goals were actual shots on net, with deflections pushing the puck over the line. They led to a 6-0 rout for the home team, the worst playoff loss of Brodeur's famed career, and he and his teammates promised a better effort in Game 2.

They gave it, but it still wasn't enough stop the Hurricanes, who have handed New Jersey consecutive losses after the Devils' record-tying 15-game winning streak that began in the regular season and continued through a four-game playoff sweep of the New York Rangers.

"These things happen, and right now, you can't dwell on it," New Jersey coach Lou Lamoriello said. "This is the playoffs, and you have to win four games."

Carolina has won six in a row after dropping the first two playoff games to Montreal in the opening round, when Cam Ward replaced Martin Gerber in net during the first period of Game 2. Now, the 22-year-old rookie is only the third NHL goalie to win his first six postseason starts.

"We're just trying to go each game at a time," he said. "We've played extremely well, good defensive hockey, in the first two games, so once again, you should be talking to the other guys."

New Jersey appeared on its way to a victory in regulation when Scott Gomez deflected in a shot from Zach Parise with 20 seconds remaining. Carolina defenseman Mike Commodore, who was stride-for-stride with Gomez, also got his stick on the puck before it skittered by Ward for a 2-1 lead.

"I could hear it hit both posts," Ward said. "It would have been a tough break to end it that way, but we made sure it didn't happen."

The Devils hardly had completed their celebration when the Hurricanes tied it again, when Eric Staal took a nifty backhanded pass from Justin Williams to beat Brodeur with only 3 seconds on the clock.

"It's over and we've got to move on," Gomez said. "You've got to let go of it right away. It's kind of like a freak accident. But give them credit. They stayed in there the whole time."

It set up New Jersey's first OT game of the postseason, while Carolina had three in the first round against Montreal.

Brodeur fell to 8-19 in playoff overtime games during his career, but he hardly can be blamed for this one. He bounced back with a gem - sprawling, stretching, jumping and even dancing to cover the crease as the Hurricanes had a 38-23 advantage in shots.

"We've got to go back and try to win our games at home," Brodeur said. "We played pretty well but just didn't the bounces there at the end. That's how it goes."

The game's first two goals were among the prettiest of the postseason. First, the Devils finally solved Ward with some brilliant passing.

All five New Jersey players touched the puck in a quick moving assault, with Brian Rafalski starting it off with a pass to Patrik Elias. Instead of shooting, Elias fed Jamie Langenbrunner right in front of the crease, and he had time to settle the puck before beating Ward to the high side of the net.

"We felt good coming into this game," Lamoriello said. "We had a lot of energy, and it was an emotional game."

The first goal of the series for the Devils gave them the lead, and they held it for more than 30 minutes. It disappeared when the Hurricanes went on the power play, which served them so well in the opener when they got five of their six goals with the man-advantage. The total was a franchise record in the playoffs.

With New Jersey defenseman Richard Matvichuk off for holding, Doug Weight carried into the zone before stopping quickly. He fed Ray Whitney near the point, and a touch pass found Mark Recchi all alone on the doorstep. He simply deflected the puck into the net before Brodeur had a chance to recover, and the score was 1-1.

The entire sequence took only a couple of seconds.

"That's the way we've been all year, we're a no-quit team," Staal said. "It was a good job by the guys continuing to battle, even though it was kind of an unlucky goal against us there. We kept with it."

Notes: Whitney celebrated his 34th birthday. ... New Jersey D Colin White (groin) missed his fifth straight game - he was on the ice for only 4:54 in the series opener against the New York Rangers. ... Carolina D Aaron Ward took a puck off his forehead early in the second period and left the ice with blood flowing down his face. He missed less than 6 minutes of game action before returning. ... Ward tied the mark set by Anaheim's Jean-Sebastien Giguere (2003) and Boston's Tiny Thompson (1929-30).

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