Eight New Jersey power plays didn't do in the Carolina Hurricanes. It was a little Devilish improvisation on an overtime faceoff that was the killer.
Jay Pandolfo scored on a backhander in close with 1:23 left in the extra period to give the Devils a 3-2 victory over Carolina on Thursday night.
The game winner came just 10 seconds after the Hurricanes killed off the Devils' eighth power play of the game, and it gave New Jersey its fifth consecutive victory at home and seventh in its last nine overall.
Just before Denis Pederson lined up against Keith Primeau for a faceoff to the left of Arturs Irbe, teammate Brian Rolston skated up to Pederson and told him to lose the draw so the puck would go deeper in the Carolina zone.
"I thought instead of losing it cleanly and not knowing where it was, I thought I would try to go forward," Pederson said. "Luckily it popped out where I wanted it to."
Rolston tried to reach the puck but he was stopped by a defenseman.
Pandolfo then swooped in from the left side of the circle and backhanded a shot that just squeezed through Irbe into the net for his fourth goal of the season and third game winner.
"Petey' pushed it forward and I was just kind of standing there," Pandolfo said. "It went through a defenseman's leg. No one took me and I took it to the net and kind of snuck it through his legs."
Even Primeau said the play seemed designed.
"I know all night I had not had much success against any of their faceoff guys and it was the first time all night I felt comfortable in the faceoff circle," Primeau said.
Devils defenseman Scott Niedermayer had forced the overtime when he put his own rebound past Irbe with 4:03 to play in regulation.
Jason Arnott also scored for New ersey while Ray Sheppard and Jeff O'Neill scored power-play goals for Carolina.
Irbe made 38 saves, but was defenseless on the final two goals.
Sheppard had given the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead with 9:04 to play, capitalizing on a bad play by Martin Brodeur. The Devils' goaltender dropped a fluttering turnaround shot from the left point by Curtis Leschyshyn and Sheppard backhanded the rebound past him.
It gave Sheppard four goals in the last three games and seven for the season.
The power-play goal was also the second of the night for Carolina, which came into the game with the NHL's second worst road power play (3-of-45).
"In this league when you are up late in the game you have to be able to hold onto the lead," Sheppard said. "We let one go earlier this year in Anaheim and we do so again tonight."
O'Neill tied the game at 1-1 with another rare road power-play goal although replays showed he kicked the puck into the net.
The goal was scored four seconds after Sergei Brylin was penalized for interference. O'Neill beat Bobby Carpenter on the faceoff and sent the puck to the point. Brodeur stopped Glen Wesley's shot but dropped the puck in the crease and O'Neill kicked it into to the net as he went for the rebound.
Brodeur complained briefly to the two referees but the goal stood.
Arnott had opened the scoring about two minutes earlier, beating Irbe with a slap shot from the top of the right circle while on a 2-on-1 break.
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