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NEWARK, N.J. -- Carolina Hurricanes center Derek Ryan wasn't drafted and spent the past four seasons playing overseas in Austria and Sweden before signing with Charlotte of the AHL this season.

The 29-year-old rookie paid his dues to reach the NHL and had a debut to remember against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Ryan scored on his first and only shot to pull the Hurricanes into a second-period tie, which helped the team rally for a 3-1 victory over the Devils at Prudential Center.

Left winger Joakim Nordstrom broke the 1-all stalemate with 1:29 remaining and goaltender Eddie Lack was strong in making 30 saves, but it was the guy standing in front of his Charlotte Checkers equipment bag in the visiting locker room that will never forget this win or his goal.

"It was just an awesome day, an emotional day," said Ryan, who played for Hurricanes coach Bill Peters when they were together in the Western Hockey League with the Spokane Chiefs from 2005-07. "Playing your first NHL game, for that to happen, it's just icing on the cake. I can't even really put it into words."

The opening at center on the Hurricanes roster was only there because the team traded Eric Staal on Sunday. Ryan played 14:38 in mostly fourth-line minutes and scored during a power play with the Hurricanes trailing 1-0.

Ryan stepped into a shot from the right face-off circle that beat Devils goaltender Cory Schneider to the stick side, then looked to the ceiling and screamed. He said Peters offered words of encouragement when he got back to the bench.

"I saw the opportunity and wanted to shoot it and just get it on net and luckily it squeaked through his arm," Ryan said. "A lucky little bounce, maybe, and a nice blessing."

The score remained that way until late in the third period, which was dominated territorially by the Devils. Lack stopped all 12 shots he faced over the final 20 minutes, allowing for Nordstrom to win it late.

Center Elias Lindholm was the catalyst, snapping a shot from between the circles that was kicked out by Schneider. Devils defenseman John Moore, who took an undisciplined slashing penalty that led to Ryan's power-play goal, fumbled the rebound, which allowed Nordstrom to bury it.

"I took a stupid penalty that cost the team," Moore said. "That's selfish and I have to be better."

Left winger Nathan Gerbe added an empty-netter with 21.2 seconds remaining to seal the Hurricanes' (29-26-10) first win in four games.

"It's been quiet around our room here; quieter than usual," Peters said. "We'll snap out of it though. In two or three days, we should be back to normal."

The Devils (30-27-7) have lost six of seven and fallen out of the postseason race. This was their first game since trading right winger Lee Stempniak, the team's leading scorer, before the deadline Monday. Their lone goal Tuesday by center Adam Henrique came off a double deflection and coach John Hynes felt that despite generating 31 shots, the Devils didn't create enough dangerous scoring chances.

"We have to shoot the puck more," Hynes said. "We had some pretty significant offensive zone time tonight but we didn't shoot the puck enough. The situation we're in now, when we're working like we are in the offensive zone, we have to get the puck to the net more and have more of a shot mentality."

Nordstrom scored the winner and Ryan had the made-for-TV moment, but it was Lack that may have been the biggest reason the Hurricanes won. His performance raised his save percentage for the season from .901 to .904 -- the lowest of his three-year career that began in Vancouver -- but he may get a chance to redeem himself over the final six weeks if he continues to play like this.

"He was real good," Peters said. "He handled the puck well. It was something he's gotten better at since he's been with us. The goal that went in was a double-deflection. He made the saves he needed to make."

NOTES: Hurricanes C Derek Ryan, who is from Spokane, Wash. had a team-best 17 goals and 42 points for the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL. ... Hurricanes LW Brock McGinn and D Ryan Murphy were recalled from Charlotte and were in the lineup. ... Devils RW Devante Smith-Pelly, acquired Monday from Montreal, did not play. He is expected to be in the lineup when the Devils visit Nashville on Thursday. ... Devils D David Warsofsky, claimed off waivers Monday from Pittsburgh, was also scratched.
Top Game Performances
 
Carolina   New Jersey
Jaccob Slavin 2 Points Adam Henrique 1
Nathan Gerbe 1 Goals Adam Henrique 1
Jaccob Slavin 2 Assists Andy Greene 1
Derek Ryan 1 Power Play Goals N/A
N/A Short Handed Goals N/A
Eddie Lack .967 Save Percentage Cory Schneider .889
Eddie Lack 29 Saves Cory Schneider 16
Team Stats Summary
 
Team Shots Goals Power Play Penalty Kill Penalty Mins Face Offs Won
Carolina 19 3 1-2 2-2 6 39
New Jersey 30 1 0-2 1-2 6 25
Upcoming Games
  • New Jersey will play their next game on the road against Nashville. The Devils have a W/L % of .419 after a win and .515 after a loss.
  • Carolina will play their next game on the road against Tampa Bay. The Hurricanes have a W/L % of .345 after a win and .528 after a loss.