Work in Sports
RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- The New Jersey Devils are turning into the NHL's version of the happy home-wreckers.
After spoiling the opening of Philips Arena in Atlanta on opening night, the Devils edged the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-2, in the first game played in the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena.
After a scoreless first period, Carolina's Andrei Kovalenko made arena history with the first goal in the building. But the Devils scored four times in the final period to assume control.
After Kovalenko backhanded a long rebound past a prone Brodeur to stake the Hurricanes to a 1-0 lead, Brian Rafalski rifled a slap shot past Arturs Irbe to tie the game 51 seconds into the third period. The goal was the first of his NHL career.
"Rafalski has got a better shot than I think (Irbe) gave him credit for," Devils coach Robbie Ftorek said. "I think he was just surprised by it. When you don't see the players on other teams, sometimes you can get fooled."
Just 94 seconds later, enforcer Krzysztof Oliwa gave New Jersey the lead for good with his fourth goal. Oliwa had five goals and 240 penalty minutes in 64 games last season.
Petr Sykora gave New Jersey a two-goal lead 3:38 into the period with his first of the season. Sykora, who led the Devils with 29 goals last season, scooped up a pass from Lyle Odelein and beat Irbe between the pads with a wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle.
After Bates Battaglia scored his fourth goal to draw Carolina within 3-2, McKay scored into an empty net with four seconds remaining to seal the victory.
"I think the work ethic was good through the whole game," Ftorek added. "Guys just worked and worked and we knew that we were going to have to because of the way that they play."
Carolina failed to capitalize on any of its four power-play opportunities.
"We were a little tentative tonight," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "We sat back a little bit. That is one of the best defensive teams that you are going to see, if not the best defensive team, in the NHL."
"We had a couple of chances but we just couldn't finish," said Hurricanes center and captain Ron Francis. "We made a couple of mistakes down the stretch. It was a good credit to our people to try and rally back."
After moving from Hartford, Connecticut, the Hurricanes played at the Greensboro Coliseum in front of sparse crowds while posting a 36-30-16 record and reaching the postseason. The Entertainment and Sports Arena cost $158 million to build.
"The crowd was great," Battaglia said. "You could definitely hear them in the stands. We hope they are like that every game."
Ken Daneyko played in his 1,000th game for the Devils, who have won five of the last six meetings between the squads.