RALEIGH — Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour has said he’s waiting to see his whole roster give a 60-minute effort consistently.
Friday night’s 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils in front of a sellout crowd of 18,680 at PNC Arena was a step in the right direction.
“I think that’s exactly what we did tonight,” said Nino Niederreiter, who opened the scoring and added an assist in being named the game’s first star. “It’s definitely a step in the right direction. We have 25 games left in the season, you’ve got to do whatever it takes to get there and make the playoffs.”
Brind’Amour is hopeful the effort will give Niederreiter — and his whole team — the confidence boost it needs for the stretch run.
“It’s huge for individuals, and then actually for our team too,” he said. “We gotta kind of get that swagger back a little bit. It starts with, to me, just getting back to basics and trusting in your game, regardless of whether you score or not. … To me, it’s just playing the right way and goals will come. We saw that tonight.”
No one is walking around with more swagger than Carolina’s top line.
The Hurricanes got what would be the game-winning goal with just over six minutes remaining in the second period. Sebastian Aho zipped a pass cross-ice to Teuvo Teravainen, who quickly found Andrei Svechnikov on the backdoor for the 19-year-old’s 23rd goal of the season and a 3-1 Carolina lead.
“That’s a highlight-reel goal,” Brind’Amour said.
But more importantly, Carolina got the depth scoring it needs if they are going to load up their first line with the team’s top three scorers.
It started with Niederreiter.
The Hurricanes opened the scoring for the first time in seven games when the snake-bitten winger’s point shot through a screen beat New Jersey goalie Louis Domingue (26 saves) to give Carolina a 1-0 lead 3:43 into the game.
“If there’s a guy that probably deserved a goal, it’s probably him,” Brind’Amour said of Niederreiter, who now has eight goals on the season after scoring a combined 25 with Minnesota and Carolina last season. “He’s had a tough year that way. It’s nice to see him get on the scoresheet.”
The Devils got it back just a few minutes later when Carolina’s forwards got beat up the ice and Mirco Mueller tapped in a Travis Zajac pass to tie the game at 7:07.
Carolina’s secondary scoring, however, struck again.
Defenseman Brett Pesce’s point shot was stopped in the slot by Warren Foegele, and he quickly fired a shot past Domingue to snap his 12-game goal drought and give Carolina a 2-1 lead at 11:23.
After the Svechnikov goal just past the game’s midway point, Carolina added an insurance tally early in the third. Martin Necas redirected a point shot and a Devils’ defender accidentally swept the puck in his own net for a 4-1 Hurricanes lead at 1:04 of the final period.
Joel Edmundson’s breakaway goal coming out of the penalty box at 14:36 of the third was quickly countered by Devils forward Joey Anderson’s first goal of the season, but by then the game was decided.
“Everything went right, but at the end of the day, it’s one game,” Pesce, who had two assists and was a game-best plus-4, said. “We’ve got to take the good and learn from the bad and move on to the next one. … We needed that one, for sure.”
Notes: It was both goalie Petr Mrazek and play-by-play broadcaster John Forslund’s birthday. … Mrazek had 35 saves. … Aho was a game-best 9 of 14 on faceoffs. … Defenseman Haydn Fleury, who registered an assist, now has points in three of his last four games.