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Sunday, Apr. 22 3:00pm ET
McKay scores twice for defending champs


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – When the New Jersey Devils play mistake-free hockey, they are the team most of the NHL has a hard time beating.

Martin Brodeur
Devils goalkeeper Martin Brodeur and Sean O'Donnell, right, put clamps on Rob DiMao.
Patrik Elias and Sergei Brylin scored 1:21 apart in the first period, and Randy McKay added two goals as the Devils beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 on Sunday to close out the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series 4-2.

"This wasn't easy for us," said Scott Stevens, captain of the Stanley Cup champions who knocked out Carolina captain Ron Francis and top rookie Shane Willis earlier in the series with bone-jarring hits. "We had a gut check here and we got through it."

The Devils, the top seed in the East, will face the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have been resting for several days after knocking off the second-seeded Ottawa Senators in a four-game sweep.

McKay, who had just 14 postseason goals in 104 games entering the series, scored his second of the game six minutes into the third. He gave the Devils a 3-1 lead with 2:03 left in the second period.

"You don't make the playoffs in this league without having a good hockey team, so they showed a lot of courage in the way they played," McKay said of the Hurricanes. "They showed us a good series."

Alexander Mogilny closed out the scoring with 5½ minutes left. Bobby Holik added three assists and finished the series with team-high eight points.

The loss dropped the Carolina franchise to 1-10 in 11 playoff series dating to 1980.

"Momentum played a key part in this series," Carolina defenseman Glen Wesley said. "We had it and they took it away."

The Hurricanes were just the 10th team in NHL history to force a Game 6 after falling behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven series. The last team to do so was the former Hartford Whalers – now the Hurricanes – in 1988 against Montreal.

But Carolina was unable to hold down the top scoring team in the league for a third straight game in front of a wild sellout crowd of 18,730 at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.

The Hurricanes also couldn't continue riding Arturs Irbe, who stopped 32 and 37 shots to win Games 4 and 5.

"These people were crazy," Irbe said of the crowd. "If anybody now says there is no future for hockey here or that hockey doesn't belong here then they are wrong. They opened their hearts to us and we felt that way to them."

Irbe stopped 34 more shots Sunday, but couldn't stop New Jersey's offensive barrage.

"I can't really put his play into words," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said of Irbe's series. "It's a great example of a man bringing his best effort at the best time."

Carolina built up some momentum with a pair of 3-2 wins to force the Devils deep into a series most figured would be over quickly after New Jersey outscored the Hurricanes a combined 11-1 en route to three straight convincing wins.

"We felt good about our team, but I'm not going to lie, it's always a little nerve-racking," Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko said of the series. "They had won two in a row and if we would have lost today, Game 7's a coin toss."

The opening 14 minutes of Game 6 were pretty even before Carolina's Dave Karpa took a holding penalty. A minute later, New Jersey's struggling power play, No 1 in the NHL during the regular season, cashed in.

Irbe made a pad save on a shot from 30 feet by Petr Sykora, but Elias pounced on the rebound for a 1-0 lead with 5:30 left in the first.

The Devils struck less than two minutes later as Mogilny made a nice crossing pass down low to Brylin, who had a wide-open net to shoot at. He buried a shot to silence the home crowd.

Martin Brodeur's bid for a third shutout in the series ended when David Tanabe blasted a power-play goal past his glove early in the second as the eighth-seeded Hurricanes rallied.

Tanabe's goal came during a poor line change by the Devils, giving the fast-skating defenseman too much open ice. The goal also got the crowd back into the game.

However, Carolina lost an opportunity to tie it shortly after Tanabe's second goal of the series with a two-man advantage for 54 seconds.

New Jersey's penalty killers didn't allow a shot on Brodeur during the major disadvantage midway through the period. McKay's goal hit off the stick of Carolina's Rob DiMaio to send the Hurricanes into the locker room down by two goals for the second straight period.

"Today's game was kind of like the series, it was too little, too late," Carolina's 41-goal scorer Jeff O'Neill said. "We kind of watched to see how good they were the first couple of games and it cost us the series. We showed some fight and courage coming back, but at the end of the day they're just a little bit better than us."

Game notes
Jason Arnott, New Jersey's fifth-leading scorer during the regular season, missed the game with a sore left knee. ... The team that scored first won all six games in the series. ... Willis missed his fourth game for the Hurricanes, while Francis didn't play in his third straight. Both were out with concussions inflicted by Stevens. ... The Devils held a combined 72-32 shots advantage in the opening period.

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Devils will get Arnott back for opener against Leafs

 Patrick Elias puts the Petr Sykora rebound past Arturs Irbe for a New Jersey score.
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 Randy McKay flips the puck past Arturs Irbe for a Devils goal.
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 David Tanabe fires the puck past Martin Brodeur for a Carolina power-play goal.
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 Alexander Mogilny finds Sergei Brylin all alone in front of the net for a goal.
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 Randy McKay puts the loose puck in the back of the net to shut out the lights on the Hurricanes' Stanley Cup hopes.
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 Martin Brodeur had confidence in his team's offensive ability.
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 Randy McKay explains how he was able to beat Arturs Irbe twice Sunday.
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 ESPN's Joe Micheletti catches up with Scott Stevens after the Devils win the series against the Hurricanes.
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