Two lucky bounces, a couple of opportunities on the power play, and the Carolina Hurricanes were off and running.
The New Jersey Devils? They simply got out of the way.
"We had our legs today. Guys were skating well," Carolina center Eric Staal said. "That's our game. If we're moving our feet, we're going to create opportunities and power plays."
Ray Whitney scored two fortuitous goals, rookie Cam Ward got his first career playoff shutout and the Hurricanes ended New Jersey's 15-game winning streak with a 6-0 victory Saturday in the opener of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
It was the first loss for the Devils since March 26 -- they won the final 11 games of the regular season on the way to the Atlantic Division, then swept the New York Rangers in the previous round. The winning streak tied the longest in NHL history that encompassed the regular season and playoffs.
"We're not looking for any excuses whatsoever," general manager and coach Lou Lamoriello said. "We didn't do some of the little things that we've been doing that gave us the success that we've had."
New Jersey never had a chance in this one. Maybe it was the weeklong layoff between games, or perhaps it was the play of the Hurricanes. Either way, the Devils must find a way to bounce back for Game 2 on Monday night.
"We have to play as good or better on Monday night, so we're not tooting our own horn here, or thinking we're something special now," Whitney said.
Eric Staal, Cory Stillman, Doug Weight and captain Rod Brind'Amour also scored for Carolina, which now has won five straight in the postseason. Ward had to make only 21 saves, continuing his impressive play after taking over for starter Martin Gerber in the first period of the second game against Montreal.
The 22-year-old Ward finished with a 1.54 goals-against average in that series, and he was even better against New Jersey.
"It's a team shutout, really," Ward said. "The team, I thought, played outstanding. It was well-deserving of a shutout, and any time you see them working that hard, especially in the defensive zone, you want to match your effort with theirs."
His counterpart, Martin Brodeur, wasn't as fortunate on his 34th birthday, suffering the worst playoff loss of his career and getting pulled late in the third period.
"Losing 6-0 in the first game of the series is not something to look back on," Brodeur said. "A lot of things went wrong. I don't think you can point at one thing. Our special teams were not up to par."