Final

Carolina won 4-3 (Game 6 of 7)

Carolina won 4-3

Game 1: Wednesday, April 15th
Hurricanes1Final
Devils4
Game 2: Friday, April 17th
Hurricanes2Final
OT
Devils1
Game 3: Sunday, April 19th
Devils3Final
OT
Hurricanes2
Game 4: Tuesday, April 21st
Devils3Final
Hurricanes4
Game 5: Thursday, April 23rd
Hurricanes0Final
Devils1
Game 6: Sunday, April 26th
Devils0Final
Hurricanes4
Game 7: Tuesday, April 28th
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Devils3

Coverage: NBCSN

7:30 PM ET, April 26, 2009

PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

1 2 3 T
NJ 0 0 00
CAR 1 2 14

R. Whitney (Hurricanes - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 3

E. Staal (Hurricanes - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

T. Gleason (Hurricanes - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

Ward staves off Devils as Hurricanes roll to force decisive Game 7

Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. -- So much for these Carolina Hurricanes crumbling under the pressure of nearly being eliminated. The mood in their dressing room had never been lighter -- and that was before they blew out the New Jersey Devils.

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"I guess when you have nothing really to lose, other than being gone, you can play a little bit more relaxed," forward Ray Whitney said.

It showed, and now the NHL's closest first-round series is headed to -- what else? -- a Game 7.

Eric Staal scored two goals less than 3 minutes apart, Cam Ward made 28 saves in his third career playoff shutout and the Hurricanes avoided elimination by routing the Devils 4-0 on Sunday night.

Whitney had a goal and three assists, Jussi Jokinen scored Carolina's first power-play goal since Game 2, Chad LaRose had two assists and Staal added an assist for the Hurricanes.

They outshot New Jersey 37-28 while their reconfigured top line produced the first three goals, and that helped lead to the most lopsided final score of the best-of-seven series. It's even at three games apiece, with the winner-take-all Game 7 set for Tuesday night in New Jersey.

Fast Facts

• The Hurricanes forced Game 7 with a shutout as Cam Ward stopped 28 shots for his third career postseason shutout and first since Game 2 of the 2006 Stanley Cup finals.

• Eric Staal scored twice and had his second career multi-goal game of the postseason. He has four goals in the series.

• Ray Whitney scored a goal and also chipped in with a playoff career-high three assists.

• Ward is 2-0 in Game 7s in his career, both coming in the 2006 playoffs, while Martin Brodeur is 5-3 all-time in Game 7s.

• No team in this series has won consecutive games.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

"The difference in tonight was, a team that played like there was no tomorrow and the other team played like there was," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "When that happens, usually the team that plays like there is another tomorrow will end up on the wrong side."

Ward finished with his first shutout in the postseason since beating Edmonton 5-0 in Game 2 of the 2006 Stanley Cup finals. He went on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as a rookie that year, and has been the Hurricanes' most consistent performer during these playoffs.

But through most of this series, the sport's winningest goaltender -- Martin Brodeur -- has been his equal. Not this time.

"[Ward] did sit for a long time" without facing many shots, Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "But it doesn't mean the next shot down, even if it's not a great shot, it could change the course of the game, with the pressure and the ramification of every shot in an elimination game. Very difficult for a goaltender, but you're seeing the reason why both of those guys are that good. ... He has really been the backbone of our team."

This one probably would have been even more lopsided had the Devils not had Brodeur. Coming off his record-tying 23rd career playoff shutout, a 1-0 victory three nights earlier in Newark, he was under siege all night and finished with 33 saves.

"The way we played, we didn't give ourselves a good chance to win this hockey game," Brodeur said.

Not even the return of captain Jamie Langenbrunner, who missed three games with a lower body injury, could save New Jersey from its worst performance of an otherwise evenly matched series. The previous four games were decided by one goal, with two going to overtime and another 0.2 of a second shy from making it three straight before Jokinen's buzzer-beating deflection ended Game 4.

"This has been a good series, and we knew it wasn't going to be easy," Langenbrunner said.

This one certainly was -- for the Hurricanes, anyway -- although it did resemble Game 4 for a while.

Just as then, Carolina led 3-0 midway through the second period. The difference: the Devils, who rallied to tie that one in the third, didn't have another comeback in them.

"We beared down," Staal said. "Obviously, we didn't want to let [a comeback] happen again. ... We finished the job, and that's what we came out to do."

Indeed, the Hurricanes never seemed to let up in peppering Brodeur, much as they did when they put 44 shots on him in Game 5.

This time, a few got past him, perhaps because of the recent tweaks coach Paul Maurice made to his depth chart. He shuffled LaRose and Whitney to join Staal on the No. 1 line.

Whitney made it 1-0 midway through the first when he swatted Staal's wraparound pass past Brodeur for his second goal of the series. Staal then gave the Hurricanes plenty of breathing room in the second, beating Brodeur with a wrist shot with 15:16 left and converting a 2-on-1 feed from Whitney with 12 1/2 minutes remaining. By that point, the Hurricanes were up 23-5 on the shot counter.

Game notes


Jokinen's goal, which came during a 5-on-3 advantage midway through the third, snapped a 1-for-22 drought on the power play for Carolina. ... The Hurricanes scored first for only the second time in the series. ... The Devils were denied their first back-to-back playoff wins since 2007. ... Celebrity watch: Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith sounded the siren that preceded the Hurricanes' entrance to the ice. North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough also was in the crowd, and when he was shown on the video scoreboard, he was both cheered and booed.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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