RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes never found their pace and as a result suffered a 4-1 loss at the hands of the New Jersey Devils at PNC Arena on Sunday.
Playing at home for the first time since a 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers last week, Carolina could only manage a goal from Andrej Nestrasil against the Devils who earned their first road win thanks to a hat trick from Mike Cammalleri.
Hurricanes goaltender Eddie Lack made his first start at home and faced 20 shots in the losing effort while Devils netminder Keith Kinkaid made 33 stops and recorded his first win of the season to extend his career record against Carolina to 4-1.
After gutting out a 3-2 shootout road win against the Nashville Predators the night before, the Hurricanes returned home and presented a less spirited effort in front of a sparse crowd of 8,650.
It wasn’t the way head coach Bill Peters wanted to finish – empty-handed.
After his team earned point in a 2-1 overtime loss against Ottawa before beating Nashville, the lackluster start against New Jersey didn’t help.
“Five-on-five, there wasn’t a lot going on either way,” he said of the game’s beginning.
“It’s right there, and the next thing you know, you give up two shots in a period, and you gotta find a way to get on the board. We needed to get on the board a little earlier, we needed a little momentum.”
Both teams skated to a scoreless first period with the Devils outshooting the Hurricanes 11-5.
The Devils took advantage of their opportunities, taking only two shots during the second, as Cammalleri tallied back-to-back goals, his first two of the season, and fueled his team’s offense accordingly.
Sitting on the right face-off dot, Cammalleri one-timed a Travis Zajac pass into the wide open right side of the Carolina net to put the Devils ahead 1-0 at the 4:31 mark.
Just over three minutes later, the Devils alternate captain gained the Carolina blue line with possession and finished the individual effort with a low shot that made it past Lack’s blocker and extended the lead to two goals.
Cammalleri completed the natural hat trick at 8:30 into the third period as his wrist shot from the left circle eluded Lack high to his trapper side.
Nestrasil finally ended Kinkaid’s shutout bid with 6:59 remaining when he tucked away a rebounded puck off the end boards while sitting in front of the New Jersey goal.
Defenseman Noah Hanifin and forward Jordan Staal earned assists on the goal.
The Devils afforded Carolina a power play opportunity, their fourth of the game, with 1:52 remaining, but Kinkaid denied each shot that came his way before captain Andy Greene scored an empty-net goal to finalize the game’s scoring.
Peters talked about his team’s problem with the man-advantage, finishing 0-for-4 on the night.
“It comes down to execution,” he said.
“It comes down to confidence and it comes down to all five guys doing their part.”
For Staal, who played in his 700th NHL game, the loss marred reaching the milestone.
“We created a lot of chances, but didn’t find a way to get it in,” Staal said.
“There’s definitely a few plays that for myself I want back, but leg-wise I think everyone was a step behind that made it difficult for us to create more.”