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Devils Postgame

Devils Takeaways: Goaltending Blunders Costly, Power Play Fails Again in Loss to Hurricanes

Nico Hischier, Timo Meier goals not enough in loss to Hurricanes due to tough outting by Nico Daws.



New Jersey Devils
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEWARK — It’s a good thing the New Jersey Devils have some veteran goaltending help on the way because it was certainly the difference in the Devils’ 4-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Despite the score, the Devils and Canes actually played a close, physically engaging game. It was flashy by any means, and it uncharacteristically had more grit than usual.

Yet, the goaltending, and a bit of bad luck hitting multiple posts, led to New Jersey’s defeat.

Let’s dive into the Devils’ loss to the Hurricanes.

Devils Recap

The Devils and Hurricanes went scoreless through the first half of the first period. However, after Kevin Bahl sat for a roughing minor, Martin Necas gave the Canes the 1-0 lead on the power play. The Hurricanes thought they doubled their lead in the second period on the stick of Jaccob Slavin, however, the goal was called back due to incidental contact with Devils goaltender Nico Daws. Nico Hischier scored shortly after, sending the game into the third period knotted at one. Jesperi Kotkaniemi wired a roof wrister from the far wall past Daws to give the Hurricanes a one-goal lead early in the third period. With the Devils’ net empty, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen scored. Timo Meier added a 6-on-5 goal in between.

Daws made 22 saves on 24 shots in the loss.


Unfinished Business

The Devils clearly haven’t forgotten about their second-round exit at the hands of the Hurricanes in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Perhaps, the Devils were a little ticked they lost to their division rival by one goal in each of their last two meetings since the calendar turned over.

New Jersey exited the first period throwing 14 hits heading into intermission. It’s been a long time since the Devils threw that many hits to start a game. In fact, in their tilt with the Canes on Jan. 25th, they only threw 19 hits total. Later on Feb. 10th, they threw 26.

The Devils’ physicality was certainly present right from puck drop. Bahl had a handful of noticeable hits that certainly irked the Hurricanes amid play, Timo Meier was throwing his weight around early and often, and even Nico Hischier joined the physical battle at times dumping Hurricanes skaters while in the defensive zone.

The Devils’ most notable hit was by John Marino who laid a clean check on Jack Drury, although Drury fell awkwardly into the boards. The Hurricanes center was attended to by trainers and later sent to the Carolina locker room for further treatment.

Perhaps the Devils are playing with a bit of anger due to their position in the standings. The physicality led to some jawing between whistles, and you just know Brendan Smith was unafraid to let the Hurricanes know where the line in the sand was drawn.

It’s good to see the Devils playing with a little more bite in their pursuit back to the postseason. They finished the game out-hitting the Hurricanes 27-18.

“We talked about it,” interim head coach Travis Green stated. “We want to be a team that’s physical in the right areas and not take penalties. When you start getting toward playoff hockey, it starts to ramp up a little bit. We knew there was going to be a lot of one-on-one confrontations against Carolina, that’s the way they play the game.”

Please Recharge Device

The Devils’ power play continues to need work. Since putting Meier on the top unit, things have gotten a little better in that area.

However, the man-advantage went 0/4 again on Saturday in a game where two points would have upped their chances of making the playoffs from roughly 19% to 25%, according to MoneyPuck.

The Devils’ issue wasn’t even when they were in the offensive end of the ice. The problems started well before that, coming through the neutral zone and trying to get past the defense of the Hurricanes.

However, Carolina is really strong on their own blue line. Their trap defense negated most of the attempts by both Jack and Luke Hughes to enter the zone with puck control and set up the cycle on the power play.

There was no adjustment, either. On each of the four power plays, the only thing that changed was who was going to try and carry the puck into the Hurricanes’ zone.

The Devils’ playoff hopes are even slimmer now, and will likely stay that way unless the power play finds its previous form.

Expedite Shipping on the Goaltending

There’s a reason the Devils went out and acquired Jake Allen and Kaapo Kahkonen.

Perhaps if either of the two veteran netminders were in net on Saturday, the outcome wouldn’t have resulted in a loss.

Daws has shown flashes of brilliance, however, his play against the Hurricanes certainly did not put that on display.

The first goal against Daws, albeit on the power play, should not have made it past the 23-year-old netminder. Necas wound up for a slapper at the point and it trickled by Daws despite the Devils goaltender getting a piece of the puck.

However, the second goal was much worse. The puck was in New Jersey’s end of the ice and the Devils were well in formation to keep the Canes to the perimeter.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly where Kotkiniemi scored from, throwing a puck on net from the far-left wall, off the far right post, off the back of Daws, and over the goal line.

That’s a frustrating one,” Daws admitted. “You can say it’s a good shot, but it’s obviously very saveable. It’s frustrating that that’s a that’s the difference in the game.”

“It’s one of those tight-knit games where a mistake is gonna be the difference and it sucks to be the one to make it.”

Add in a handful of mishandled pucks in the trapezoid and above the goal line, and it just wasn’t a good afternoon for Daws.

There’s a reason why General Manager Tom Fitzgerald wants Daws (and Akira Schmid) to get as much time in the AHL as possible, and that cost the Devils a significant two points on Saturday.

Can you expedite shipping on a goaltender? Because the Devils need Allen, Kahkonen, or both fast.

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