Early Miscues Doom Devils in Carolina

Well, there’s some good news and some bad news. The good news? The Devils became only the second team to outshoot the Carolina Hurricanes in a game this season. Carolina regularly outshoots their opponents by a ten to one margin, averaging more than 40 shots a game. The Devils fired 34 shots at them while limiting them to only 25 on target. Only Chicago had kept them in check by outshooting them and that was back on November 8.

Then there is the bad news. The Devils lost the game 2-1, letting in both Hurricanes goals about 30 seconds into the game. They dropped both games this weekend, mustering only one point out of a possible four.

Both teams were playing the back half of a back-to-back, with the Canes losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 last night at home and the Devils, of course, falling in OT to Detroit in Newark.

Some injury news saw Nico Hischier missing a third straight game, he is day-to-day. Brian Boyle, Hischier and Steven Santini skated earlier today, but coach John Hynes told Erika Wachter of MSG+ that only Nico and Santini seem to be close to returning. Sami Vatanen remains on injured reserve as well.

With that, the lineup remained the same as yesterday afternoon with only Cory Schneider starting between the pipes. Cory made 23 saves on those 25 shots against. He let in the first two shots he saw (though through little fault of his own) and played well most of the rest of the night after he settled in.

Going for the Canes was Curtis McElhinney. He stopped 33 of the 34 shots he saw. The Devils nearly had him beaten a few times, notably when Trevor van Riemsdyk poke checked the puck off of Joey Anderson’s stick on a breakaway for Anderson midway through the first. Van Riemsdyk went hard into the boards aftewards and left shaken up, but did return later on. Damon Severson also had seemingly beaten McElhinney a few moments later, with the puck getting behind the Carolina goalie. McElhinney quickly spun around and fell on it before it crossed the goal line, however.

The Canes started their quick onslaught just 22 seconds into the game. Justin Williams took advantage of Egor Yakovlev skating aggressively out towards a loose puck and snuck in a lane behind him. Jordan Staal gathered the puck and found Williams, who skated in on Cory and scored five hole. Brock McGinn had the secondary assist on that goal that make it a very fast 1-0.

Then, just eight seconds later, at 30 seconds in, Micheal Ferland scored from Teuvo Teravainen and Dougie Hamilton to make it 2-0 Hurricanes. This goal would go down as the game winner.

The Devils would draw within one at the 6:33 mark of the first when Pavel Zacha scored his second goal in two games off an assist from Jesper Bratt. Bratt skated up the right wing boards and played give and go just inside the Carolina zone with Marcus Johansson. Bratt then found Zacha slipping in behind the Canes’ defense. Zacha took the pass and used a beautiful backhand shot to beat McElhinney to cut the Hurricanes’ lead in half. Johansson was not officially credited with an assist, but should, and probably will, be later on.

And that was the scoring for the evening.

Both teams went 0-for-3 on the power play with the Devils firing off five power play shots and the Hurricanes getting two through to Cory with the man advantage. Both teams also mustered a shorthanded shot each.

The Devils won 49-percent of the game’s faceoffs, but were unable to win a crucial draw late in the Carolina zone when Schneider was pulled for the extra attacker. The Hurricanes also outhit the Devils 37 to 25. The Devils blocked more shots (20-14), though.

Statistically, Damon Severson ate the most minutes at 22:33 (1:13 on the power play and 1:00 on the penalty kill). Travis Zajac led the forwards with 20:41 total time on ice (3:01 of power play time and 2:31 on the PK). Blake Coleman led in shots on goal with five while Zajac, Coleman and Greene all led in hits with three apiece. Greene and Ben Lovejoy each had the most blocked shots with four. J-S Dea and Mirco Mueller led in takeaways with two each.

Next up, the Devils return to Prudential Center on Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, to take on the Montreal Canadiens. Puck drop for that one is 7 PM as the Devils will look to get back on a winning track heading into the holiday.

In one other bit of news, former Devils defenseman Paul Martin announced his retirement recently and I just wanted to wish him the best. He played 14 seasons in the NHL with the Devils, Penguins and Sharks and was always a solid presence on the blueline. Good luck to him in retirement.

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