Sharp-angle goal by Jesperi Kotkaniemi gives Hurricanes a 4-2 win over the Devils


Hurricanes score incredible goal from inexplicable angle

Jesperi Kotkaniemi somehow finds an opening and ricochets the puck off the back of Nico Daws to give Carolina a 2-1 lead.

NEWARK, N.J. -- — The Carolina Hurricanes added recently acquired Evgeny Kuznetsov to their lineup on Saturday. It was one of his new linemates who made the difference against the New Jersey Devils.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi broke a tie with a sharp-angle shot early in the third period and Pyotr Kochetkov made 24 saves to lead the Hurricanes to a 4-2 victory over the Devils.

“That’s what we try to lean on every night,” Kotkaniemi said of the Hurricanes' style. “Tried to get a couple of goals on the PP and if they give you a chance, we’ll take it, but defense is our thing and just try to be tight in our own end and that’s been the key for our wins lately.”

Martin Necas also scored, and Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen added empty-net goals as Carolina swept the three-game season series with New Jersey and improved to 8-2-1 in its last 11 games. Teravainen finished with three points, adding two assists to extend his point-scoring streak to six games.

Kuznetsov was dealt to Carolina by Washington on Friday and this was his first game since Jan. 27. He entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program on Feb. 5. He said he had not skated much in the past 50 days but he liked what he saw Saturday.

“A lot of young guys,” the 31-year-old from Russia said of his new team. “Lot of young guys, which is exciting and I feel like they all compete hard and they have skill. My job is just fill in and do whatever is best for the team.”

Nico Hischier and Timo Meier scored for the Devils, who are 1-2 under interim coach Travis Green. Nico Daws made 23 saves.

Goaltending has been a issue this season for the Devils, and the go-ahead score was one that Daws probably would like back. Kotkaniemi collected a loose puck in the left corner and immediately fired it at the net. Daws had his body against the goalpost but left an inch exposed over his shoulder and the shot found it.

“It’s one of those tight-knit games where a mistake is going to be the difference," Daws said. "And, you know, it sucks to be the one to make it.”

Svechnikov made it 3-1 late and after Meier got New Jersey within a goal with 12 seconds to play, Teravainen closed out the scoring.

Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour might have been second-guessing himself. Leading 1-0 in the second period and about to go on a two-man advantage, an apparent power-play goal by Brady Skjei was waved off because Stefan Noesen interfered with Daws.

Brind'Amour unsuccessfully challenged the referee's ruling, losing the 39-second two-man advantage. He said after the game he would not have challenged had he known the game would restart with his team playing 5-on-4. He thought it would be 4-on-3.

Hischier tied the game at 1-all with 4:33 left in the second period with a shot over the glove of Kochetkov, who shut out the Devils last month. Jack Hughes set up the goal, stealing a pass by Andrei Svechnikov in the Hurricanes' zone.

Necas opened the scoring on a power play at 12:28 of the first period, beating Daws from the blue line for his 20th goal of the season.

The Hughes brothers — Jack and Luke — both hit the goalposts for the Devils.


Hurricanes: Return home to face Calgary on Sunday.

Devils: At Rangers on Monday.