(Newark) The homecoming has been more than healthy for the New Jersey Devils.
Jack Hughes had two goals and two assists to guide the Devils to a resounding 8-4 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon.
After suffering two embarrassing setbacks in Raleigh, the Devils pounded their opponents in the first period to close the gap to 2-1 in this second-round series.
The two teams will meet again on Tuesday evening, at the Prudential Center, for the fourth meeting.
Shut out in the first two games of the series, Hughes carried the offense on his shoulders, after amassing 99 points this season.
Nico Hischier had one goal and one assist for the Devils. Michael McLeod, Miles Wood, Timo Meier, Ondrej Palat and Damon Severson also hit the mark. Dawson Mercer set up three goals for the New Jersey squad while Luke Hughes, playing in his first career playoff game, had two assists.
Vitek Vanecek regained the net he lost to Akira Schmid and stopped 26 shots for the Devils. He wasn’t the most convincing, but his teammates gave him a good cushion to work with.
Seth Jarvis, Jordan Martinook, Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho replied for the Hurricanes, who suffered their worst loss since the start of the playoffs.
Frederik Andersen hadn’t lost in three games since the start of the spring tournament, but he hit a wall by allowing four goals on 12 shots. Replacement for Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour was Pyotr Kochetkov, who fared little better giving up four times on 22 shots.
Meier, who was stunned by Jacob Trouba in the series against the New York Rangers, finally came out of his torpor early in the first period. Jack Hughes left the puck behind and Meier sped past Andersen to score his first goal of the playoffs.
Just under five minutes later, Hughes passed the puck on the other side to Brendan Smith, who returned the favor. The Devils forward lodged the puck in the top of the net to hit the mark.
When shorthanded, McLeod got rid of Jarvis, who was acting as a defenseman, and he found a way to slip the puck between Andersen’s pads to allow the home team to return to the locker room with a lead. of 3-0.
The Devils hurt the Hurricanes in the 53rd second of the second period. The hard work around the net served the cause of Hischier, who also got his first goal of the playoffs.
After Aho closed the gap, 67 seconds later, Severson left along the boards and evaded a few Hurricanes players to beat Kochetkov.
Both teams scored twice in the third period, but victory seemed long overdue for Lindy Ruff’s men.