Final

Carolina won 4-1 (Game 3 of 5)

Carolina won 4-1

Game 1: Saturday, May 6th
Devils0Final
Hurricanes6
Game 2: Monday, May 8th
Devils2Final
OT
Hurricanes3
Game 3: Wednesday, May 10th
Hurricanes3Final
Devils2
Game 4: Saturday, May 13th
Hurricanes1Final
Devils5
Game 5: Sunday, May 14th
Devils1Final
Hurricanes4

7:00 PM ET, May 10, 2006

IZOD Center, East Rutherford, New Jersey

1 2 3 T
CAR 2 1 03
NJ 1 1 02

R. Brind'Amour (Hurricanes - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

C. Ward (Hurricanes - G): Saves: 28, Save Pct.: .933

P. Elias (Devils - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Hurricanes win seventh straight; Devils near elimination

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The Carolina Hurricanes didn't care how many players their winning shot hit on the way to the net. All that mattered was it put them one victory away from another trip to the Eastern Conference finals.

Consecutive wins, goaltenders, to start playoff career
2006, Cam Ward, CAR 7
1929-30, Tiny Thompson, BOS 7
2003, J.S. Giguere, ANA 6

Rod Brind'Amour was credited with the decisive power-play goal that produced Carolina's 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night and gave the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven second-round series.

Eric Staal shot it, New Jersey's Sergei Brylin got a piece of it and Brind'Amour steered it on a bouncy path between Martin Brodeur's legs late in the second period to snap a 2-2 tie.

"I wasn't trying to do anything special, just change direction and hopefully it goes in," Brind'Amour said. "That's pretty much what happened."

And that's just what has been happening for the Hurricanes in this series that could be over Saturday in New Jersey.

They have scored goals on tips, bank shots, even with redirections by skates -- theirs and the Devils' -- to move within one win of the conference finals for the second time in four seasons.

"This is a team that never looks too far ahead or too far behind," Brind'Amour said. "We're always looking at the next game and we know we're not done with this job."

Matt Cullen added another man-advantage goal and Justin Williams also scored for the Hurricanes, who have won seven straight since dropping the opening two games in the first round to Montreal.

"It was a big win but we know the series isn't over," forward Mark Recchi said. "We're happy but guys were pretty subdued knowing we've still got work ahead."

Since Cam Ward replaced Martin Gerber early in Game 2 against the Canadiens, Carolina has allowed just 12 goals. The 22-year-old rookie made 28 saves to become the second NHL goalie to win his first seven postseason starts, joining Tiny Thompson, who did it for Boston in 1929-30.

"Our focus was on getting better each and every game," Ward said.

Brylin and Patrik Elias scored for the Devils, who went from a 15-game winning streak to a three-game skid that has their season all but over. Only two NHL teams have come back from an 0-3 hole.

"Sometimes there is a lot to be said and sometimes you really don't have to say anything, because we all know the situation we're in and what we have to do," Elias said of the Devils, who have never been swept.

Brodeur made 21 saves but was again outdueled by Ward. New Jersey was just three seconds away from getting even in the series in Game 2, but consecutive one-goal losses have put the second round far out of reach.

"You have to find a way to stop those bounces and take over the game and not let them get those opportunities," Devils forward John Madden said.

New Jersey was done in by a four-minute high-sticking penalty against Jamie Langenbrunner that produced the winning goal with 1:01 left in the second period.

Brind'Amour quieted the non-sellout crowd when he was the last to touch Staal's deflected drive from the point and bounced it between Brodeur's pads.

New Jersey killed off the remainder of the power play to start the third but only mustered seven shots in the period despite two full power plays. Langenbrunner had several scoring chances but whistled some drives wide of Ward.

Carolina answered each of New Jersey's two goals with production from its potent postseason power play that is 14-for-48 -- tops in the league.

Brylin put the Devils ahead with his first goal of the playoffs just 2:57 in with.a quick shot that beat Ward from the slot.

A roar went up from the crowd that didn't come near the decibel level that was reached in the Devils' first-round sweep of the rival New York Rangers. Blame it on the opponent, the large pockets of empty seats in the second deck and the uneasiness of the fans who have grown familiar with seeing New Jersey ahead in playoffs instead of in trouble.

"It was a good atmosphere. It's fun to be a part of an energized building," Ward said. "They came out firing, excited to play in their home building. But despite being down in the first three minutes, our character showed again like it has all season long in just forgetting it."

The Hurricanes had two goals on just five shots in the fast-moving first period that was slowed by just eight faceoffs and one penalty -- Elias' hooking infraction that preceded Cullen's goal.

Elias, the NHL's leading scorer in the playoffs, netted his first goal of this series at 8:45 of the second period by one-timing a shot from the right circle and past Ward. The tying goal brought some life back to the hopeful fans, but that was snuffed out in the waning moments of the period when Brind'Amour put Carolina back on top.

Game notes


Carolina defenseman Aaron Ward was leveled in the second period by a hard, shoulder-to-shoulder hit from New Jersey's Erik Rasmussen. He left briefly before returning to the ice. ... New Jersey defenseman Colin White was back in the lineup after missing five games with a groin injury. ... Carolina has its first 3-0 series lead in franchise history.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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