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.