RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The New Jersey Devils had to work as hard
to reach the playoffs this season as they've ever had to before.
So it was no surprise that the Devils had to go to overtime to
finally wrap up a ninth straight postseason berth.
Brian Gionta scored a power-play goal 28 seconds into overtime
to give the Devils a 4-3 victory over Carolina on Tuesday night.
"I tell you what, if there is any team we've had that deserves
to get into the playoffs, and we've had some great ones, (it's)
this team," Devils coach Lou Lamoriello said. "The way they
responded in the whole second half of the season and overcame so
many little things."
Martin Brodeur made 37 saves to help the Devils stretch their
winning streak to eight games and become the first NHL goalie to
win 40 games in five different seasons. The All-Star is 40-23-7.
"We knew time was on our side when there were disappointing
times," Brodeur said. "But we've turned it around and this was
Gionta's power-play goal -- his team-leading 45th goal of the
season -- capped a wild ending, with both teams scoring in the final
5 minutes of regulation and New Jersey locking up its playoff spot
when the game went to overtime.
Gionta said the puck struck his stick between his hands off a
shot from Scott Gomez, accounting for the winning goal.
Carolina's Eric Staal scored his team-leading 45th goal of the
season with 46 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime
after the Hurricanes pulled goalie Martin Gerber for an extra
attacker. The Devils, though, didn't panic.
"Every night has been a playoff game for us," Lamoriello said.
"It's a reward to the players who kept their focus and their
commitment to each other." Lamoriello, the team president and
general manager who replaced Larry Robinson behind the bench in
"It took awhile," Gomez said. "A lot of people kind of
counted us out at the beginning. It took us a little longer than we
wanted, but it's an honor to make the playoffs."
New Jersey's Jamie Langenbrunner scored a power-play goal with
4:27 remaining in the third period to put the Devils ahead 3-2.
Langenbrunner has scored in three consecutive games and four of his
17 goals this season have come during the current winning streak.
The Hurricanes are trying to land the No. 1 seed in the Eastern
Conference for the playoffs. They entered the game in position to
do so if they won their final four games regardless of what the
Ottawa Senators do.
"We played a pretty decent game and to lose like that at the
end is tough," Hurricanes right wing Mark Recchi said. "But we
got a point. Look at the positives and make sure we stay focused on
the right things and move forward from this."
John Madden scored late in the second period to give the Devils
a 2-1 lead.
Madden's slap shot skipped off the arm of Gerber to snap a 1-1
tie. Madden has four goals in the last nine games.
But Recchi scored with 11:43 remaining, slapping in a rebound
from Doug Weight's shot that hit the left post. It was his third
goal since joining the Hurricanes last month in a trade with
New Jersey's Grant Marshall scored less than 90 seconds into the
game, producing his eighth goal of the season and ending a 25-game
stretch without a goal. Marshall also assisted on Madden's goal.
Carolina's Craig Adams tied it at 1-1 later in the first period.
"I have no problem with the way we played," Carolina coach
Peter Laviolette said. "I have a problem with the result. We were
a little soft on defense and it cost us."
The Hurricanes had a two-game home winning streak end.
They are 31-8-1 at home. ... The Devils have secured at least one
point in their last six road games. ... Former Carolina G Arturs
Irbe, one of the stars of the franchise's 2002 playoff run to the
Stanley Cup finals, attended the game.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: PNC Arena Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Referees: Dave Jackson, Marc Joannette Linesmen: Tim Nowak, Pierre Racicot
Attendance: 14,232 (76.0% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Grant Marshall (8)
Assists: John Madden, Jay Pandolfo