Hurricanes Finish Playoff Jockeying with 6-3 Victory Over Devils

Well, I’m still a game behind here, but here is the recap of the game from Thursday. As mentioned, I was at the New York Giants Draft viewing at MetLife Stadium on April 28 and, thus had to record the Devils’ visit to Raleigh.

I put this off for as long as I could (and got to see the Mets’ combined no-hitter on TV on Friday to boot!) but now is my reckoning: the final two games of the Devils’ 2021-22 season.

The Devils roster shuffles continued as the season wound down. Alexander Holtz was recalled from the Utica Comets and played tonight mainly on the top line with Jesper Boqvist centering and Jesper Bratt on the left side of an all-Swedish line.

Holtz had played seven games at the NHL level already this season in his callup earlier in the year.

Another player returning to the lineup was Jimmy Vesey, who had not played since suffering a bone bruise in his leg against the Rangers back on April 5. He was a game-time decision as per Erika Wachter was was out due to Andreas Johnsson coming out of the lineup due to injury.

Colton White, Mason Geertsen and Reilly Walsh were the healthy scratches (Nikita Okhotiuk slotted back in on defense in his place – Walsh was simply given the night off) while Johnsson, PK Subban, Nico Hischier and Tomas Tatar were all out with the flu bug that has been rampaging again throughout the Devils locker room.

The Devils started Andrew Hammond tonight and he played 47:32 before being pulled in favor of Jon Gillies after giving up Carolina’s sixth goal. Mackenzie Blackwood, who got the start the prior game at Ottawa, should start the final game of the season versus Detroit, so Hammond and Gillies were the tandem for this game.

Hammond made 24 saves on 30 total Hurricanes shots for an .800 save percentage in the game. He did not let in Carolina’s lone shorthanded shot against him and was equal to all five of their power play chances. At even strength, he stopped 18 of 24.

Gillies came in and played the final 12:28 of the game and pitched a shutout, stopping all six shots he faced, including a shorthanded shot and all five at five-against-five.

Carolina finished the game with five power play shots and two shorthanded shots and were 0-for-3 on the man advantage. They ended the game with 36 shots on Devils goaltending.

The Canes countered with Antti Raanta as they are dealing with some goalie problems of their own heading into the playoffs. Frederik Andersen has been injured which means that Raanta has been pretty much auditioning for the starting goalie position.

Raanta stopped 27 of the Devils total of 30 shots for a save percentage of .900 in the game. He stopped the Devils’ lone power play shot and 26 of the 29 he was peppered with at even strength.

The Devils finished the game 0-for-2 on the power play team-wise.

The Hurricanes were playing their final game of the season: number 82 before they begin the playoffs this coming Monday. Thus, they were sitting and resting some key players like Andrei Svechnikov and Jaccob Slavin.

The Canes had already clinched the Metro Division with a win over the Rangers earlier in the week at Madison Square Garden and are looking to do some damage once the postseason begins.

For the Devils, this was their final road game of the year as they will close out with one more game (already played on Friday) against the Red Wings at Prudential Center.

This was also Dougie Hamilton’s first game back in Carolina since signing as a free agent with the Devils last offseason.

The Canes, even while sitting some of their best, wasted no time in getting on the board and piling on against New Jersey.

They notched their first 4:44 into the game when Damon Severson was taken down hard on Carolina’s hard forecheck. No penalty was called on the play (which could have borderline been a trip) and the puck was turned over to Jepser Kotkaniemi. He got it back to Brendan Smith at the near point. Smith went D-to-D with Ethan Bear and Bear shot from the far point. His shot deflected in off of a Devils player and by Hammond to make it 1-0 Carolina.

The Hurricanes made it 2-0 less than a minute later with 5:33 gone by with a nearly mirror image of the first goal.

The Canes came in on a hard forecheck and the Devils were not able to clear. Kotkaniemi forced the puck on a turnover and got it to Ian Cole at the far point. He then gave it to Martin Necas at the near point. Necas’ shot then deflected in off of Dougie Hamilton’s stick and by Hammond to double up the Carolina lead.

Almost the exact same goal as the first one, just flipped around.

The Canes were not done in the first period either.

They continued their onslaught with 12:53 gone by in the first when Ty Smith turned the puck over to Necas in front of the Devils net. Necas just waited and passed to Kotkaniemi at the far post. Kotkaniemi dunked it in to make it 3-0 Carolina.

Things were already looking dire for the Devils. But Fabian Zetterlund made sure they would at least end the first period on a somewhat positive note.

A little over a minute after the Kotkaniemi goal, at 13:55 gone by, Pavel Zacha cut through the middle of the ice and dished off to Zetterlund on the right-wing side as they entered the Carolina zone.

Zetterlund cut back towards the middle to use Zacha as a screen and scored. Damon Severson had the secondary assist.

The Devils actually continued their assault at the midpoint of the second period. Zetterlund hit the crossbar on a breakaway where he had Raanta beaten. This had come just after Hammond had come up with a big right pad save on Brett Pesce at the other end.

A few moments after Zetterlund hit iron, Vesey clanged one off the post following a faceoff win by the Devils in the Carolina zone.

But it was still the Hurricanes who would get the only marker of the second period.

At the 17:27 mark, the Canes won a faceoff in the Devils zone with Vincent Trocheck winning the draw and the Devils’ Yegor Sharangovich inadvertently pushing the puck to Teuvo Teravainen after he tied Trocheck up.

Teravainen simply walked to the middle of the ice all alone, picked a spot and beat Hammond to make it 4-1 and take us into the third period.

The first half of the third period was completely dominated by the Canes.

Just 3:14 into the frame, Sebastian Aho gave to Seth Jarvis, who walked into the Devils zone, briefly losing the puck at the blue line, but beating Kevin Bahl to the puck in a foot race.

He then skated up the right side and deked Severson out of his skates before passing to Steven Lorentz, who finished for the Hurricanes to make it 5-1.

Jordan Martinook make it 6-1 at 7:32 gone by in the third when Derek Stepan wound the puck around the wall to Brady Skjei at the near half wall. He just threw the puck towards Hammond’s net and Martinook was there to tip it by the beleaguered Devils goalie.

It was following that goal that Hammond’s night was done and Gillies came in for what would likely by his last action of the season.

That might have sparked the Devils a bit, as Jesper Bratt scored at the 14:17 mark to make it 6-2.

It came Zacha gained the Carolina zone and dished to Nolan Foote. Foote then fed Bratt for a one-timer off the rush. The primary assist was Foote’s first NHL assist and the goal was Bratt’s 26th of the year – tying him with Jack Hughes for the team lead for 2021-22.

The Devils still had one more in them at the 15:44 mark of the third when the puck came down low to Nathan Bastian behind the Canes’ net. He came out from behind and centered to Vesey on the doorstep. Vesey was able to chip the puck over Raanta’s shoulder and score in his first game back for the Devils.

A too many men on the ice bench minor called on the Devils at 19:25 meant that New Jersey was going to finish the game killing a penalty. Time then ran out and that was that.

The Devils were outshot 36 to 30 and won 49-percent of the game’s faceoffs. Zacha won 75-percent of his faceoffs to lead Devils skaters in the faceoffs won category.

The Devils wound up with six penalty minutes in the game while the Hurricanes accumulated four PIMs. The Devils outhit Carolina 19-11 and the Hurricanes had 14 blocked shots to the Devils’ ten.

Team giveaways saw the Devils end up with four while the Canes had eight.

Hamilton led in total ice time by one second with 21:28 logged (including 2:05 on the power play and 1:46 on the penalty kill). Severson had 21:27 of total ice time (including 1:48 of PP time and 2:37 of PK time) while Ryan Graves led in PK time with 2:44 out of his 19:30 of total TOI (he also had six seconds on the power play).

Among the forwards, Zacha led in total ice time with 18:25 logged (including 2:09 on the power play and 1:50 shorthanded). Janne Kuokkanen had more shorthanded time with 2:17 out of his 15:09 of total TOI while Bratt had more power play time at 2:12 out of his 15:51 of total ice time.

Zacha – with his two assists – was the only Devils with a multi-point night. Vesey, Sharangovich, Bratt and Boqvist all had three shots on goal to lead there. Hits were led by Michael McLeod with four. Bahl led in blocks with three. Personal turnovers were led by Severson and Bratt with two each while personal takeaways were dominated by Dawson Mercer with five.

Next up, the final game of the 2021-22 season for the Devils (which was played last night) as the Devils hosted the Detroit Red Wings in Newark.

As I am again behind, I did record that game and should have it up sometime later today or so.

Devils Lose Heartbreaker in OT to Canes

The Devils took one step forward today in terms of finally breaking their power play slump, but ultimately blew a late 2-0 lead to the Carolina Hurricanes to fall in overtime 3-2.

Firstly, I was able to attend the game for a very special occasion.

You may recall back last spring that here on the blog, I referenced the loss of a dear childhood friend, Michael Rosinski. He tragically passed last year due to complications from Covid.

As I mentioned at the time, to say that he and his family were highly instrumental in getting myself and my family into the Devils in particular and hockey in general and helping to create a lifelong obsession would be a gross understatement.

Today, my family (including my mom and sister and I) were able to reconnect with Michael’s mother, brother and nieces to take in the Devils game at Prudential Center. We were there for a shared passion: the New Jersey Devils. But we were also there to honor the life of a great man who will never be forgotten.

As I said, Michael loomed large in stature – his height was well documented, but also in the hearts of all who knew him. We had the opportunity to meetup with a few other friends of his along the way and you realized then just how much of a great legacy he left behind.

The only regret we had was the outcome of the game, which obviously could not be regulated, but the effort that the Devils put forth today against a team that is poised to make a run come playoff time truly meant something.

Scratched for the Devils today were Colton White, Ty Smith, Mason Geertsen and Jesper Bratt.

The first three were carryovers from the Buffalo loss. Bratt did not seem to have anything wrong with him from the Sabres game, but I did not get to see the pregame show, obviously and have been able to find out what was the issue there so far – be it injury or anything else. We will try to keep you updated as things progress (or don’t) with him.

Nolan Foote was recalled from AHL Utica and played his first NHL game since January 8 in a 4-3 loss at the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In goal, the Devils have sort of settled into a tandem of Jon Gillies and Andrew Hammond to end the season and it was Gillies this afternoon. He stopped 26 of 29 total Carolina shots for an .897 save percentage on the afternoon. He turned aside the Canes’ lone power play shot and 25 of their 28 five versus five chances.

The Hurricanes were 0-for-2 on the power play as a team for the afternoon.

Carolina, who have had some injuries between the pipes, started Pyotr Kochetkov, who stopped 17 of the Devils’ 19 total shots for an .895 save percentage. He save the Devils’ lone shorthanded chance and had the ignominy of giving up the first Devils power play goal in 11 games. New Jersey was 0-for-29 over that stretch but did break through on Kochetkov today as he let in one of the Devils five power play shots, allowing them to go 1-for-3 with the man advantage. He made 12 of 13 saves at even strength.

Of note today was Tomas Tatar playing in his 700th NHL game for the Devils and the Hurricanes gaining sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division following their win here and the Rangers’ 3-1 loss at the Bruins on Saturday.

There was a pregame moment of silence held for NHL and Montreal Canadiens great Guy Lafleur, who passed away due to lung cancer yesterday, in a classy move by the Devils. It is still kind of a shock to have lost two great icons of the sport, from the same era basically, in such short order to the exact same illness when including Mike Bossy’s passing last week.

I truly apologize here for the quick-and-dirty nature of this recap. I was attending live so there were less notes that I could make and I want to be caught up in time for tomorrow’s matinee against the Detroit Red Wings as well.

The Devils got the early jump on the powerhouse Hurricanes just 15:43 into the second period following a scoreless first period where the Devils held on to skate with the Canes, when Yegor Sharangovich tipped a Jesper Boqvist shot by Kochetkov to make it 1-0 on the power play.

Vincent Trocheck had gone off for tripping Nikita Okhotiuk (playing in just his second NHL game) at the 15:39 mark and the Devils wasted no time as they hoped to end their run of power play futility.

Damon Severson had the secondary assist and the Devils led 1-0.

In the third period, Nico Hischier sniped a shot far side just inside of Kochetkov’s far post off the rush from Sharangovich and Okhotiuk to make it 2-0.

The Devils were just trying to hold on here as you could feel things getting a bit wobbly for them. Gillies played pretty well and kept them into things until things began to unravel with about five minutes or four and a half minutes or so remaining in the game.

Brady Skjei scored unassisted with 15:24 gone by in the third to cut the Devils lead in half at 2-1.

Nino Niederreiter allowed the other shoe to drop at 18:04 gone by when he finished a play from Jesper Fast to tie the game at two. Tony DeAngelo had the secondary assist.

It would only take 1:39 into the extra session for Carolina to strike. Seth Jarvis found the back of the net off of a feed from DeAngelo (who had himself a two-point night) to win the game and take the two points for the Hurricanes and give them the 3-2 victory.

The Canes outshot the Devils 29-19 while the Devils won just 47-percent of the game’s faceoffs. Nico Hischier led in personal faceoff wins with 11 wins on 20 faceoffs taken for a 55-percent personal winning percentage.

Carolina accumulated eight PIMs as a team while the Devils had six. The Canes also outhit the Devils 19-14 while the Devils blocked more shots at 15 to the Hurricanes’ ten. Team giveaways saw New Jersey with nine to Carolina’s five.

Sharangovich, with a goal and an assist, did manage to record two points for the Devils on the afternoon.

Damon Severson was back to leading the Devils skaters in ice itme with 23:39 logged (including 2:05 on the PP and 2:15 on the PK). Special teams-wise, Dougie Hamilton bested him on the power play with 3:05 while adding 1:01 of shorthanded time to his 22:58 total TOI. As far as on the penalty kill, Ryan Graves logged 2:22 to go with 14 seconds on the power play to make up his 22:28 of total ice time.

For the forwards, Sharangovich led in total time with 21:35 – which included 1:52 on the PP and the identical 1:52 on the penalty kill. Fabian Zetterlund bested him in power play time with 3:11 out of his 15:51 of total time on ice. Sharangovich’s PK time was tops for the forwards.

Sharangovich also led in shots on goal with four. Okhotiuk made himself right at home in the lineup while leading the team in hits with four. Hamilton led in blocked shots with five. Personal giveaways were led by Graves and Severson with two each while personal takeaways were led by Michael McLeod, Sharangovich and Dawson Mercer with one apiece.

And that’s that. We will be back here tomorrow (hopefully on-time) as the Devils finish their homestand against the Detroit Red Wings in a Sunday 1 PM matinee.

That game will be shown on MSG+2 and I will hope to have it up at a reasonable time. Should I not, never fear! I am recording it and will at least have it up by the end of the night.

Until then, enjoy your Saturday night everyone!