NEWARK, N.J. — All the Carolina Hurricanes needed to push the New Jersey Devils to the brink of elimination was a five-minute span in the second period where everything went right and the puck just kept going in.
Jordan Martinook had a goal and two assists and the Hurricanes scored five times in the middle period to beat the Devils 6-1 for a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal.
The Hurricanes have outscored New Jersey 17-3 in their three wins. The five goals in the second period were the most the Devils have given up in a period this season.
“The game was decided in a five-minute span and the rest of the game was ehhh,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
Martin Necas scored twice and Brett Pesce, Jesper Fast and Brent Burns added goals as the Hurricanes routed the young Devils for the third time in four games. Frederik Andersen made 21 saves in a relatively easy game after giving up an early goal to Jack Hughes.
The Hurricanes, who edged the Devils for the Metropolitan Division title, can wrap up the best-of-seven series Thursday night in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“We did what we wanted to do,” said Carolina captain Jordan Staal, who had two assists. “It’s great to see everyone contributing and winning battles.”
Despite being down 2-1, New Jersey seemed to have the momentum coming into Game 4. It posted an 8-4 win Sunday and had things and the crowd going their way after Hughes’ early tip for his sixth goal of the postseason.
Things changed late in the opening period when Martinook set up Necas with a deft flip pass for shot in close that beat Vitek Vanecek.
Everything went the Hurricanes way in the second period. They got a couple of friendly bounces off Devils’ sticks, and then poured it on as a time out by New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff and later a goaltender change to first-round hero Akira Schmid didn’t change the luck.
“We had guys that just went rogue,” Ruff said. “It’s hard to explain how poorly we skated and handled the puck. You can’t let one goal deflate a team. We didn’t skate.”
Martinook, who didn’t score a point in the six-game first-round win over the Islanders, was at the center of things in the big second period, which featured the first four goals in a 5:20 span.
Necas put Carolina ahead at 7:26 when Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler deflected a cross-ice pass by Pesce and it went to the Carolina forward alone in front.
Martinook, who has nine points in this series, had a hand in the final two goals. He had the secondary assist on Burns’ first of the postseason at 12:46.
Martinook closed out the five-goal spree by beating Schmid on a break at 19:36.
“It’s good to contribute but being up 3-1 and going home is the main thing,” Martinook said. “In Game 3 we hung him out to dry (Andersen) and tonight we slowly took over the game.”
Vanecek allowed five goals on 17 shots.
Hughes got the Devils on the board at 1:55, tipping Timo Meier‘s shot between Andersen’s pads for his sixth goal. Necas tied at 17:40 in close.
The second period changed the series.
“It obviously took the wind out of our sails,” Devils defenseman Damon Severson said. “It’s not fun to fall back like that.”
NOTES: The Devils made no changes in their lineup after their one-sided win on Sunday. Ruff again used seven defenseman. … New Jersey D Ryan Graves missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. … Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour made one changing, sitting Jesse Puljujarvi and inserting MacKenzie MacEachern on the fourth line. … Martinook has three goals and six assists in the series. D Jaccob Slavin got a point to pass Kevin Dineen and move into fifth place (32) in playoff scoring in Whalers-Canes history
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