GAME: Carolina Hurricanes at New Jersey Devils.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference semifinals; Hurricanes lead 2-0.
TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EDT.
The Carolina Hurricanes pulled off a stunning rout of the New Jersey Devils in the opener of their East semifinal series. In Game 2, the Hurricanes shocked the Devils again - this time in a completely different way.
Following a pair of disheartening losses, New Jersey stumbles home looking to regroup and avoid a 3-0 series deficit when it takes on Carolina.
The Devils surged into the matchup with Hurricanes after a first-round sweep of the New York Rangers gave them a 15-game winning streak, but that run ended abruptly in a 6-0 loss at the RBC Center in Saturday's opener.
The defeat was the worst in the postseason of goaltender Martin Brodeur's career. He and his teammates promised to put together a better effort in Game 2, and did just that.
In the end, though, it didn't matter, and the Hurricanes pulled off a 3-2 overtime win Monday night that may have been even more discouraging to the Devils than the Game 1 loss. Eric Staal's goal with 3 seconds remaining sent the game to overtime, and Niclas Wallin scored at 3:09 of the extra period to lift the Hurricanes.
Staal tied it 18 seconds after Scott Gomez appeared to give the Devils a victory to even the series with his third goal of the playoffs. Stunned after Carolina responded immediately to tie the game, New Jersey lost when the puck hit Wallin's skate and went through Brodeur's legs.
"Everybody can get the puck to the net, that's what the playoffs are about," Wallin said. "Call me the secret weapon."
The Devils get a day off to reflect on and correct what went wrong in Raleigh. New Jersey can lean on its extensive postseason experience as it tries to rebound and get back in the series.
"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."
The Devils have to be hoping the bounces start to go their way at home. In Game 1, neither of Carolina's first two goals were actual shots on net, with deflections pushing the puck over the line.
New Jersey, however, is in an 0-2 hole mostly because it has been clearly outplayed. Brodeur's strong effort Monday helped keep the Hurricanes from another easy victory as Carolina outshot the Devils 38-23. The Hurricanes had a 38-21 advantage in shots in the opener.
Carolina's refusal to give up after Gomez's goal showed it is a determined team that's not intimidated by an accomplished postseason club like New Jersey.
"We're just trying to go each game at a time," Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward 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."
Ward, though, is another big reason why Carolina is in control. The 22-year-old rookie has been better than Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner, and has a 1.38 goals-against average in the playoffs.
"We've got to go back and try to win our games at home," Brodeur said. "We played pretty well but just didn't get the bounces there at the end. That's how it goes."
Mark Recchi also scored Monday for Carolina, tying the game in the second period after New Jersey's Jamie Langenbrunner opened the scoring with his third playoff goal early in the first.
The Devils have lost three of the four playoff series in which they dropped the first two games, including a six-game defeat to the Hurricanes in the conference quarterfinals in 2002. New Jersey also saw its 2004 season end after falling behind 2-0 to Philadelphia and losing in five games in the East quarters.
The Hurricanes' franchise is 1-1 in best-of-seven series in which it has led 2-0.
Game 4 will be Saturday afternoon at Continental Airlines Arena.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Hurricanes - 2nd seed; beat Montreal Canadiens 4-2, East quarterfinals. Devils - 3rd seed; beat New York Rangers 4-0, East quarterfinals.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Hurricanes - Rod Brind'Amour, 5 goals; Staal, 8 assists and 12 points; Justin Williams, 14 PIM. Devils - Patrik Elias, 5 goals and 12 points; Elias and Langenbrunner, 7 assists; Cam Janssen, 26 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Hurricanes - Power play: 27.9 percent (12 for 43). Penalty killing: 83.3 percent (30 for 36). Devils - Power play: 22.2 percent (8 for 36). Penalty killing: 76.5 percent (26 for 34).
GOALTENDERS: Hurricanes - Ward (6-1, 1 SO, 1.38 GAA); Martin Gerber (0-1, 7.20). Devils - Brodeur (4-2, 1, 2.20); Scott Clemmensen (0-0, 0.00).