Carolina’s Jesper Fast deflects the puck past New Jersey goaltender Akira Schmid for an overtime goal in Game 5 Thursday night in Raleigh, N.C. The Hurricanes won the series in five game and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2019. Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — Jesper Fast deflected in a shot by Jesperi Kotkaniemi at 7:09 of overtime to give the Carolina Hurricanes a series-ending 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.

Fast’s deflection while shielding Akira Schmid set off a celebration for the Hurricanes, who never led until the final play and twice trailed by a goal before winning the best-of-seven series 4-1 to reach the Eastern Conference final.

In the first tight game of the second-round matchup, Fast made amends for when he popped a puck over the goal in front of an open net in the first period.

Jaccob Slavin and Brent Burns also scored for Carolina, and Frederik Andersen made 27 saves.

Dawson Mercer and Timo Meier scored for New Jersey. Schmid stopped 36 shots.

This marks Carolina’s first trip to the Eastern Conference final since 2019. The Hurricanes will face the winner of the Florida-Toronto series, with the Panthers leading that one 3-1.


The first four games of the series had been filled by lopsided results, with each decided by at least four goals and a starting goaltender chased early. Carolina won the first two games at home by an 11-2 margin, then shook off a Game 3 loss by blowing things open in the second period for a 6-1 road win Tuesday in Game 4.

The Hurricanes had been in this position in Round 1, with a chance to close out the New York Islanders on home ice in Game 5. They lost that one and instead had to clinch the series with an overtime road win in Game 6.

This time, they needed a dramatic finish to avoid a repeat.

The Devils’ exit comes in a season where a young group arrived to postseason contention earlier than expected.

New Jersey finished one point behind the Hurricanes in the Metropolitan Division for the league’s third-best point total (112) and the franchise’s first playoff appearance in five years, then pushed past the rival New York Rangers in seven games despite falling behind 0-2 for its first playoff series win since 2012.



FLYERS: The Flyers had been drubbed in yet another loss in April 2021 — a dreary preview for two more adrift seasons ahead — when analyst Keith Jones went on the televised postgame show and cut loose on the sorry state of the franchise.

“This is a team that’s in need of a major makeover, ” Jones said. “This is not something you fix overnight, this is not something you fix in a week and this is something I don’t think any of us saw coming.”

Two years later, the Flyers did at least finally complete their major front-office makeover, but the franchise still can’t be fixed overnight or in a week. Oh, and as for something no one saw coming, how about this — without a lick of management experience, Jones — affectionately known as “Jonesy” — was called out of the booth and into the front office and tasked with turning the Flyers from their rock-bottom state into Stanley Cup champions.

From calling the action to calling the shots, the Flyers named Jones team president of hockey operations.

“I consider the Philadelphia Flyers organization the gold standard of the NHL and professional sports,” Jones said in a statement Thursday. “I’ve seen how this city and these fans can rally around their team and there is nothing that compares to that feeling.”

The popular Philly sports website Crossing Broad wrote, ” This is not The Onion,” in a story about Jones as he makes the surprising career change after two decades cracking jokes as part of a talk radio morning show, all while juggling hockey broadcast gigs at NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBC, and most recently for TNT’s coverage of the NHL in each of the last two seasons.


The Flyers will hold a press conference Friday to explain the decision. It will be a crowded dais at the Wells Fargo Center.

Jones was expected to be joined by general manager Danny Briere, who officially had the interim tag removed from his title, and other executives including Dan Hilferty, Valerie Camillo and second-year coach John Tortorella.

The Flyers billed the presser as the first time all five members of the “unified Flyers leadership group” will be together.

The Flyers had long been knocked for relying on former players to try their hand at the front office — see, Bobby Clarke, Paul Holmgren, Ron Hextall — and are back in the alumni well after an ill-fated stint with former GM and franchise outsider Chuck Fletcher. Briere led the Flyers to their last Stanley Cup appearance in 2010 when they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks and Jones spent parts of three seasons with the Flyers from 1998-2001.

Not only are the Flyers leaning hard on former players, Briere is still learning the ropes in his new job and Jones has no previous management experience. The most veteran member of the construction of the franchise is now the 64-year-old Tortorella.

SUSPENSIONS: The Vegas Golden Knights will be without their best defenseman in Game 5 with their second-round series against the Edmonton Oilers hanging in the balance.

Alex Pietrangelo was suspended for one game by the NHL Department of Player Safety for his slash on Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl in the final two minutes of the Oilers’ 4-1 victory Wednesday night that knotted the series at 2-2. Game 5 is Friday night in Las Vegas.

The Oilers will be without defenseman Darnell Nurse, who received instigator and misconduct penalties for fighting Nic Hague after Pietrangelo’s slash. Because the instigator penalty occurred in the final minute, it carries an automatic one-game suspension, a decision upheld by the NHL.

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