Hurricanes Get Revenge on Devils

Exactly one week ago, last Saturday, the Devils scored a pretty mid-level upset when they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in Newark by a tally of 7-4.

The Canes repaid the favor tonight by getting by the Devils 2-1 at the PNC Arena in Raleigh. Considering Thursday’s loss at Tampa Bay was the exact midway point of the season for the Devils and this game began the official second half, time is quickly running out on their playoff chances.

With that loss, several personal streaks for the Devils came to an end, most notably Jesper Bratt’s seven-game point scoring streak.

New Jersey went with the same lineup as in Tampa the other night, sitting Mason Geertsen, Marian Studenic and Christian Jaros. Defenseman Dougie Hamilton remains sidelined with a broken jaw and forward Michael McLeod is still on Injured Reserve following his fight against the Dallas Stars last week.

Even the same starter was between the pipes, as Mackenzie Blackwood remains out and Jon Gillies got the nod for the second straight game. He actually got his first win as a Devil last week against Carolina and was looking to turn the trick again.

He played a solid game, but just could not come up with the W. He stopped 21 of 23 total Carolina shots for a .913 save percentage. He was equal to all three Hurricanes’ power play shots as the Devils limited the Canes to being 0-for-2 with the extra attacker. At five-versus-five, he made 18 saves off of 20 shots.

The Hurricanes went with veteran Antti Raanta, who made 24 saves on 25 total Devils shots for a .960 save percentage for the night. The Devils ended up turned aside on their lone shorthanded shot and both of their power play shots – they went 0-for-2 on the power play as a team – and, at full strength, he made 21 saves on 22 shots against.

The Hurricanes were celebrating their annual “Whalers Night” as they honored their past incarnation as the Hartford Whalers by wearing their old green, blue and white uniforms with the classic “W logo with the H in the negative space.”

Although it is always a bit jarring when the franchise that spurned the Connecticut city and moved to North Carolina suddenly decides to take on their old identity, the uniforms are sharp enough on the ice to earn a pass in this situation because they just look so good on the ice, in my opinion.

All of the game’s scoring came in the first period.

It began a bit before 8:02 gone by when Jordan Martinook was stopped by Gillies on a chance. A few seconds later, Martinook got his revenge when Seth Jarvis centered to Martinook (who was stationed around the near inside hash marks at the faceoff circle with a backhanded pass. Martinook took the pass, spun around and flung a backhanded shot past Gillies to make it 1-0 Carolina early. Brady Skjei had the secondary assist.

From there, the teams settled in and traded some chances.

Tony DeAngelo hit the far post for the Hurricanes in the middle/late first period.

Following that post shot, Carolina stuck again to double their lead up. This one also came after Andreas Johnsson was stopped by Raanta in the Canes’ end.

At the 14:22 mark of the first, Carolina grabbed the puck and Ian Cole got it to Andrei Svechnikov. Svechnikov carried it into the Devils zone and cut in on Gillies. The Devils’ goaltender stopped Svechnikov initially, but it continued to trickle past Gillies and dribble in over the goal line. By the time a trailing Vincent Trocheck got there to clean up any loose change for the Canes, Svechnikov’s shot had already gone into the Devils net and Carolina had a 2-0 lead.

Just as in the game back at Prudential Center last week, the Devils were behind the 2-0 eight-ball early.

And just like last week, the Devils would have a bit of a response right away.

At the 17:28 mark of the first, Janne Kuokkanen recovered the puck off of the back of the Carolina net and passed to Jimmy Vesey up top. Vesey immediately found Jesper Boqvist set up near the near side of the goal mouth. He was fed with a one-time set up by Vesey and connected.

Boqvist found the back of the Hurricanes net, scoring his first goal of the season – and his first since May 4 of 2021 against the Boston Bruins last season. (Keeping in mind that Boqvist has a relatively limited sample size duet to lack of playing time at the NHL level and injuries).

And that was it for the scoring in the game as both goaltenders locked the doors following that.

In the second period, Nathan Bastian was stopped on a breakaway at the end of the frame by Raanta on a shorthanded chance as Yegor Sharangovich was gone for tripping Brett Pesce.

Midway through the third period, Gillies made a big stop on the Canes just prior to Nino Niederreiter being called for roughing Ryan Graves and Bastian going off for a slashing minor against Niederreiter leaving the teams to play 4-on-4 for the next two minutes.

On that ensuing 4-on-4, a Pesce shot seemed to beat Gillies and go in. It trickled by him and Gillies knew he was beaten, slumping his shoulders down in a gesture that suggested he knew the puck had gotten by him.

However, the puck never actually crossed the goal line fully and PK Subban was Johnny on the Spot to swoop in and clear the puck out of the crease before it went in. Subban’s quick thinking and action saved a goal and kept the Devils in the hunt.

New Jersey would pull Gillies with just over two-minutes to go in regulation for the extra attacker. They would spend the majority of the time defending to keep Carolina from scoring into their vacated cage and actually never got a sustained attack going to tie the game.

Time simply ran out and the final buzzer sounded, handing the Devils another regulation loss.

The Devils outshot the Hurricanes 25 to 23 and won 53-percent of the game’s faceoffs. Sharangovich led all Devils centers with a personal 71-percent winning clip in the absence of Michael McLeod.

Each team logged six minutes in total penalty minutes and the Canes outhit the Devils by a massive 42-21 margin. They essentially played physical game at a 2-to-1 clip to what the Devils did.

Carolina had only a few more blocked shots at 16 to New Jersey’s 14. Team giveaways saw the Hurricanes with 23 to the Devils’ ten.

Individually, Damon Severson led all Devils skaters in time on ice with 27:16 (which included 2:52 on the power play and 3 minutes of shorthanded time). Those special teams times also led the defensemen.

For the forwards, Jack Hughes led in total time on ice with 19:52 of total ice time (including 2:41 on the power play and five seconds killing penalties). Nate Bastian – who also logged 2:41 on the power play (out of a total of 19:40 of total TOI) and Bratt (2:41 on the man advantage out of his 19:06 of total ice time) tied for the power play lead. Kuokkanen led the forwards in PK time with 2:13 logged out of his 12:05 total time. He also had nine seconds of time on the power play.

Andreas Johnsson, Bratt, Boqvist and Jonas Siegenthaler each had three shots on net to lead in total shots. Hits were led by Vesey and Bastian with six each. Blocks were led by Hischier with five. Personal giveaways were led by Vesey, Dawson Mercer and Bratt with two apiece while personal takeaways saw Hischier, Vesey, Kuokkanen, Bratt, Ty Smith, Severson, Graves, Siegenthaler and PK Subban each led with one per.

Next up, the Devils begin a home-and-home back-to-back with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday, January 31. They kick things off up in Canada at the Scotiabank Arena on Monday. Puck drop for that game is at 7:30 PM and will be shown on MSG+.

We will have coverage for you right here following the conclusion of the game. Please join us, won’t you?

And until then, have a great NFL Championship Sunday if you are planning on watching either or both of the games tomorrow.

Lightning Hold on to Edge by Devils in Tight Game

Back on November 20, the Devils traveled down to Tampa and electrified the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in come-from-behind fashion.

Tonight was a little more straight forward for a Devils-Lightning game as the Bolts defeated the Devils 3-2 in regulation to hand New Jersey their third loss in their last four games.

First off, some roster shifting due to injuries.

Dougie Hamilton (broken jaw) skated with the Devils at practice on Wednesday and traveled with the team on the current three-game road trip. Hamilton wore a no contact jersey and had on a lower face shield while skating as he is on the road to recover.

Fellow blue liner Ty Smith (upper body) also skated on Wednesday as he had been placed on Injured Reserve retroactive to January 19. He traveled with the Devils to Florida and had missed the last three games. The Devils got good news when Smith was activated off of IR and was cleared to play tonight.

The subtractions saw Michael McLeod being placed on IR in Smith’s stead. McLeod did not practice on Wednesday and did not travel with the Devils after he took a huge right hand from the Dallas Stars’ Luke Glendening in a fight on Tuesday night. McLeod is officially listed with an upper body injury.

McLeod missed his first game of the season tonight. Jesper Boqvist slotted in for him up front.

He joined goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, who was placed on IR on Tuesday due to his left heel.

Mason Geertsen and Marian Studenic were the healthy scratches up front while Christian Jaros slotted back out on the blue line due to Smith returning.

Jon Gillies got the start with Blackwood out and made 32 saves on Tampa’s 35 total shots against for a .914 save percentage on the night.

He turned aside five of their six shorthanded shots and let in one of their two power play shots as Tampa was 1-for-1 on the power play as a team (a 100-percent conversion rate). At five-versus-five, Gillies made 26 saves on 27 shots.

Going for the champs was Andrei Vasilevskiy. He stopped 31 of the Devils’ 33 total shots for a .939 save percentage. He was equal to four of he Devils five power play shots as they went 1-for-3 on the man advantage. Vasilevskiy stopped 27-of -28 shots at full strength.

Tonight officially started the second half of the schedule for the Devils, just about a week out from the All-Star Game. However, their three-game road trip before the break will see them face the teams with the second (Tampa Bay), fourth (Carolina) and fifth points percentage getters in the NHL currently – all in their home buildings.

The Devils would try to capitalize on a quick start just 4:33 into the game.

The Lightning had lost Mikhail Sergachev to a high-sticking minor 3:10 against Yegor Sharangovcih to put the Devils on the power play.

Here, Jesper Bratt worked the puck around the perimeter to Damon Severson at the point. Severson stepped up and shot. He had created some time and space. Severson just snapped a shot towards the net. It seemed that it may have been tipped in front by either Nico Hischier and/or Nathan Bastian. Instead, it seemed to go in off of a Bolts player for the New Jersey power play goal.

The goal was a result of the Devils just being able to keep the puck alive in the Tampa Bay zone just prior to the goal. It was good hard work that resulted in a goal.

And speaking of hard work on the other side (and defensively), Tampa’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare made a nice defensive play when he was able to clear the crease of a sure Devils’ goal later in the first period. The puck had gotten behind Vasilevskiy and Bellemare was Johnny-on-the-spot to sweep the puck aside and save a surefire Devils goal from happening.

The Lightning got the game tied in the second period on the power play. Andreas Johnsson was gone for a high-sticking on Alex Killorn to set Tampa Bay up on the man advantage.

Killorn made the Devils pay 1:46 into the second period. Steven Stamkos passed off the half wall to Victor Hedman at the point. Hedman blasted a shot on net. Gillies made the initial save but Killorn was in front to keep jamming away at the puck until he scored to make it 1-1.

The game began to fall apart for the Devils in the middle of the second beginning, of all things, with the Lightning taking a double minor for high-sticking. Jan Rutta got called for four minutes on Jonas Siegenthaler.

Tampa ended up dictating the play and putting a lot of pressure on the Devils for the majority of the four-minute power play.

During the middle of the four-minute Devils man advantage, with 6:10 left in the frame, Anthony Cirelli was hauled down on a shorthanded breakaway with a clear scoring chance and was awarded a penalty shot.

Gillies turned him aside in a seemingly big moment for the Devils. This would surely be a way for New Jersey to turn things around and get moving on the rest of their power play attack.

Except that a minute or so later, as the Devils still have almost half of the four minutes left, Mathieu Joseph came up the right-wing boards and shot. Gillies made the initial save and then could not locate the puck as it fell behind the Devils goalie and sat behind him in the crease. Joseph skated by and tapped the puck in behind Gillies to give the Lightning the 2-1 lead.

This goal came unassisted and was the 11th shorthanded goal allowed by the Devils this season.

Bratt had a chance late in the second period off of a stretch pass that sprung him in on Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy stopped him to keep Tampa up.

Vasilevskiy started the third period the same way. He stopped Jack Hughes early off of a great 2-on-1 play with Yegor Sharangovich.

Hughes would convert, though, with 10:55 gone by in the third period to tie the game at two.

Severson gave the puck to Bratt, who circled around the zone before gaining a clear shooting lane. He shot from up top in the zone and his blast rebounded off of the end boards and right to Hughes as Hughes was cutting in towards the net. Hughes put the rebound behind Vasilevskiy to make it 2-2.

Bratt, with his two assists, extended his point streak to five-games tonight.

That tie would only last for a minute following the Hughes goal, however. At 11:55 gone by in the third, Cirelli finally got his.

Ondrej Palat made a cross-ice pass to Brayden Point as Point broke into the Devils zone. Point waited patiently around a Devils defender, then passed into Gillies’ pads and Cirelli’s skates in front of the Devils net. Cirelli recovered it and put the puck in to give the Lightning the 3-2 lead.

Gillies was pulled with just over two minutes to go in regulation. The Devils would pressure, but not get through.

The Devils got a final reprieve when Tampa iced the puck with 6.7 seconds left in the game, placing a faceoff in the Tampa zone.

But it was to no avail and the Lightning held on for the 3-2 victory.

The Devils were outshot by Tampa 35-33. New Jersey won 42-percent of the game’s faceoffs, brought down a little bit by McLeod being out of the lineup. Nico Hischier led Devils centers with a 63-percent personal faceoff winning percentage.

The Bolts finished the game with six total penalty minutes while the Devils had just two. The Lightning had 35 hits to the Devils’ 25. Tampa also had 18 blocked shots to the Devils’ six. Team giveaways saw the Lightning record four while the Devils had just two.

Nate Bastian recorded five shots to lead the Devils in that category. Hits were led by Jimmy Vesey with four. Blocks were led by Dawson Mercer with two. No individual Devil recorded a giveaway in the game while Andreas Johnsson, Mercer, Jesper Boqvist, Ryan Graves and PK Subban all led in takeaways with one each.

In terms of ice time, Severson was the big minutes-eater again with 27:10 logged (including 3:44 on the power play and 54 seconds shorthanded) while Hischier led the forwards in total time on ice with 21:28 logged (including 3:56 on the power play and 54 seconds on the PK).

Next up, the Devils will travel up to Raleigh, North Carolina to face the Hurricanes on Saturday. This will be a rematch of last Saturday’s matchup against the Canes.

It will be another tough test for the Devils when the puck drops at 7 PM Saturday on MSG+.

We will have coverage for you right here following the game then and until then, I hope everyone has a great end to their week!