Hurricanes hand Devils a crushing loss

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[March 28, 2016]  RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes have been on the wrong side of sudden swings in momentum too often lately.

This time, they had an answer and they weren't rattled.

Goalie Cam Ward came up a big after a midgame rough stretch, and the Hurricanes defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-2 Sunday at PNC Arena.

"There's never an easy game, it's the NHL," Carolina center Jordan Staal said. "Teams are going to fight back. We took the foot off the gas a little bit. But we had to find a way."

Ward finished with 23 saves, stopping all nine shots in the third period.

Victor Rask scored twice and Ron Hainsey had a goal for the Hurricanes (33-28-15).

"It's another stride and it's very nice to see," Staal said of Rask, who reached the 20-goal mark.

Bobby Farnham and Travis Zajac scored for the Devils (36-32-8), who had a three-game points streak snapped.

The Devils were coming hard after pulling within a goal. That was sort of a gut check for the Hurricanes.

"Everyone battled," Carolina center Jeff Skinner said. "Everyone found a way to dig in."

Carolina coach Bill Peters said: "We just needed to regroup. Nothing needed to be said. ... Once we started making more plays, we were good again."

New Jersey rookie goalie Scott Wedgewood, who started his fourth consecutive game, lost in regulation for the first time. He made 20 saves.

Wedgewood, who allowed a total of two goals in his first three games, gave up three goals in slightly more than 22 minutes Sunday.

Ward hadn't played in Carolina's two previous games, but he was up to the task as the Hurricanes won for only the second time in eight games (2-2-4).

"There's a lot of character in this room," Staal said. "Everyone is trying to show their potential."

Carolina played mostly alert in the defensive zone for the final 30 minutes.

"We had momentum there in the second (period) and chances to tie it up," Farnham said. "But they packed it in a little harder in the D-zone. We couldn't get that third one."

Carolina led 3-2 after two periods, but the Devils made a strong second-period push after trailing by three goals.

"We came out and put ourselves behind the 8-ball," Farnham said. "It's tough to come back. Down 3-0, I thought we really fought hard to come back and give ourselves a chance."

Farnham's goal came unassisted to get the Devils on the board at 6:27 of the middle period after they were shut out across their previous four periods.

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Farnham scored for the first time since Jan. 12, which was the last game before he served a four-game suspension.

Zajac drew the Devils within 3-2 just 50 seconds later. An assist on that goal went to left winger Blake Pietila for his first NHL point in his third game this season. Pietila had the first good crack at the goal on the sequence before Zajac cleaned up the rebound.

The Hurricanes held a 3-0 lead after Rask's second goal just 2:01 into the second period.

His first goal came on a four-on-three power play, marking Carolina's second goal in a 36-second span.

Hainsey, who hadn't scored this month, opened the scoring for the Hurricanes when he was left alone on the backside.

The opening 40 minutes were opposite for the Hurricanes from a night earlier in an overtime loss to the New York Islanders. In that game, Carolina started slowly before producing a big second period.

On Sunday, Carolina held a 14-3 edge in first-period shots. New Jersey responded with a 13-5 shots advantage in the second period.

NOTES: Carolina won the season series 3-2 vs. New Jersey. ... Hurricanes C Riley Nash was out of the lineup after he collided with a post Saturday night. ... With a lineup of seven defensemen, Carolina D Ryan Murphy was used as a winger for this game. ... C Adam Henrique had the game-winning goal in five of the Devils' last seven wins against Carolina. ... This game was the back end of the final set of back-to-back games for Carolina. ... This was the first of three road games in a stretch of a week for the Devils, but they play home Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins. ... Carolina plays its only road game during a five-game span Tuesday night against the New York Rangers.

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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