RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes didn’t play at their pace on Tuesday, and suffered a 3-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils as a result.
After claiming points in 11 straight home games at PNC Arena, the Hurricanes’ streak ended.
The Devils managed to win, even while being outshot 30-18.
“They did a good job checkin’,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
“They didn’t give up anything. Nothing for free there above the puck.”
Sebastian Aho’s eighth goal of the season at 12:24 in the third period was the only response Carolina offered.
Carolina goaltender Cam Ward made exceptional stops, but his counterpart at the other end of the rink, the Devils’ Cory Schneider, was equal to the task and earned the win.
The Hurricanes threw everything except the kitchen sink towards the New Jersey net with 24 additional shots getting blocked and 11 more attempts missing outright.
A scoreless power play (0-4) didn’t help the situation either.
Playing without defenseman Justin Faulk and forward Elias Lindholm, both out with injuries, it was evident that the Hurricanes’ game wasn’t right.
Not for lack of trying, but they failed to capitalize on their opportunities.
Forward Jeff Skinner took a game-high six shots, but couldn’t beat Schneider.
“Sometimes it’s just the timing,” he said.
Adam Henrique’s one-timer beat Ward and put the Devils ahead 1-0 at the 14:56 mark of the second period.
Mike Cammalleri then ricocheted a spinning slapper off defenseman Jaccob Slavin’s stick and beat Ward high to the opposite short-side corner to extend the lead to two goals.
It was the finest hole that a needle of a shot could thread through – and did.
Aho’s goal 54 seconds later pulled Carolina to within one, tucking away a rebound off the end boards.
“A good shot by Ron Hainsey,” he said.
“I just tried to tip it in and a lucky bounce to me, and I just put it in the net.”
A goaltender interference penalty to Taylor Hall soon provided the Hurricanes the prime opportunity to tie the game.
But they didn’t.
With Ward out of the net for the sixth attacker with just under three minutes remaining, a turnover by Aho allowed Kyle Palmieri to score an empty-net goal and finalize the victory for New Jersey.
With the Devils winning their third game this season over the Hurricanes, the finish didn’t impress the Carolina coach.
“They’re usually close games and tonight was no different,” Peters said.
“I didn’t love our game. Didn’t think we exactly played fast. We try to play at a little more pace than that. For some reason tonight, we didn’t play fast at all. We settled for D to the D, D to the D, back to the D, and then to them.
“In general we played slow. That’s not how we play when we play well. Right off the bat you could tell we were content to just play a slow game. We’ve gotta get the puck goin’ up ice and get it from our D to our forwards’ hands and establish a forecheck if we can’t get a possession entry. We didn’t do that tonight.”