The Carolina Hurricanes had not had a regulation loss at the PNC Arena since November 10. In that time, the team has gone 10-0-1 in the friendly confines of their home in Raleigh. But streaks are made to be broken and the Devils, fresh off of their win last night over the Boston Bruins, came in and, while it was ugly at times, played well enough to win. They defeated the Hurricanes 3-1, ending their home streak in which they got a point in 11 straight games.
The last time New Jersey came to Carolina, Michael Cammalleri had a natural hat trick, leading the team to a victory over the Canes. The Devils have three wins in three games against the Hurricanes after tonight, their best record against a Metropolitan Division opponent (although they have yet to face the Islanders and Blue Jackets).
Some roster moves saw Jacob Josefson still out with illness. Travis Zajac was back in after being ill for the Boston game. Luke Gazdic and Reid Boucher were also healthy scratches for New Jersey. Speaking of Boucher, according to Deb Placey on the MSG pregame show, he had to be placed on waivers again since another team had put in a claim on him when the Devils did. Therefore, he could not immediately be sent down to Albany of the AHL as per the collective bargaining agreement. That is partly why he was a healthy scratch for the Devils tonight rather than being sent to the American League.
Scratches for Carolina were Klas Dahlbeck, Eddie Lack and Elias Lindholm. Lindholm is out with an upper body injury. Also for the Canes, Justin Faulk is out with a lower body injury. On the injury front, the Devils took a big hit when captain and current iron man (he playing in his 350th straight game tonight) Andy Greene went down after seemingly being hit in the face with the puck during the first period. He did not return to the game. This forced the Devils to play with five defensemen (four when Kyle Quincey had to leave to get stitches late in the game).
The goalie matchup saw Cory Schneider start again for the Devils. He made 29 saves on 30 Hurricanes shots. Cory played very well tonight, as the break he took with Keith Kinkaid starting the two games against Washington seems to have done him good. Carolina threw out their workhorse, the veteran Cam Ward. He made 15 saves on just 17 Devils shots.
The Devils were looking for their first win streak since the first week of December and their first back-to-back wins since November 11 and 12.
There was no scoring in the first period for either team, although there were chances. Right before New Jersey went on their first power play; Adam Henrique was able to catch the Canes in a change and broke in the Carolina zone. The bad change by Carolina led to a too many men on the ice penalty. The Devils did not score on the power play, and went 0-for-2 with the man advantage for the night. The Devils penalty kill was also efficient, killing all four Carolina power plays. Steve Santini made a nice play in the first when he cleared the crease after Cory made a good save on a Hurricanes’ chance.
The Hurricanes had tilted the ice for much of the second period, but it was the Devils who struck first. It came at the 14:56 mark when the Devils went tic-tac-toe from Damon Severson to Mike Cammalleri to Adam Henrique, who fired the puck by Ward giving the Devils the 1-0 lead. New Jersey made all tape-to-tape passes around the rink as everyone seemed to get a touch of the puck. With that goal, Henrique notched his tenth of the season, making him the second Devil behind PA Parenteau to go into double digits in goals.
Cory helped to preserve the lead when he stopped Jeff Skinner on the side of the net while the Hurricanes were on the power play late in the second period.
Carolina came out in the third period looking to tie things up. They again tilted the rink so much that the Devils needed to use their timeout at the 17:55 mark of the third frame. Just about two minutes in.
But the Devils would double their lead after Schneider and Ward each traded big saves back and forth. At the 11:30 mark, they broke by Ward when Cammalleri ended his goal drought. It started when Kyle Palmieri dug the puck out of the far corner and gave it to Henrique. Henrique fired and the puck went into the near corner where Cammalleri took it and shot from an odd angle. The puck deflected off of a Carolina defenseman’s stick and up and over Ward’s shoulder, hitting the crossbar and bouncing down and in. The Devils now had a 2-0 lead.
The Hurricanes were not going down without a fight, though. Less than a minute after Cammalleri’s goal, Carolina wonder rookie, Sebastian Aho scored as he was falling down on the side of Schneider’s net from a bad angle. Ron Hainsey and Teuvo Teravainen had the assists on his goal, which made it 2-1 Devils.
Aho’s goal broke Cory’s 127:13 shutout streak. The Devils goaltender had been playing extremely well and would continue that trend even after giving up that goal.
Down 2-1, Hurricanes coach Bill Peters made the strange decision to pull Ward with almost three minutes left in regulation. With Ward out, there was no room for error as the Canes tried to get the game tied. And sure enough, Palmieri intercepted a pass from Aho to Noah Hanifin in the Carolina zone and buried an empty net goal to give the Devils back a two goal cushion.
Although the Hurricanes would pull Ward again with 1:30 left in regulation, 3-1 was all she wrote. Carolina would take their timeout with 51.8 seconds left in the game, but it was to no avail as time ran out and the Devils had their second straight win.
The Devils now find themselves at NHL .500 at 16-16-7 and only six points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, currently occupied by the Flyers.
And with that, we will see if the Devils can extend their streak on Friday when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at Prudential Center. The Devils will be honoring Dr. John McMullen as the first member of their Ring of Honor in that game. I will be attending that game live and so my report will be a little bit late. It should be interesting to see where the Devils go against a Leafs team that has been playing well of late.