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New Jersey Devils Gutted Out 3-1 Victory Over Carolina Hurricanes

After shutting out Boston last night, the New Jersey Devils gutted out a tough 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. This game recap goes over how tough it was and who shined for the Devils.

New Jersey Devils v Carolina Hurricanes
Head pats for the best Devil on the ice tonight: Cory Schneider
Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

9Back on November 6, Michael Cammalleri emerged to drive the New Jersey Devils to a win in Raleigh, North Carolina for their first road win of the season. Since that game, the Carolina Hurricanes have went 10-1-1 at home. Tonight, the New Jersey Devils prevailed again with a tough 3-1 win in their rink. It was the first time the Devils won two games in a row in nearly a month. Speaking of firsts, Carolina suffered their first home regulation loss since November 8. And they gutted out this winning performance.

This was a gutsy, tough win for a multitude of reasons. First, Cory Schneider received a second consecutive start after shutting out Boston last night. Schneider was forced to work hard and work often tonight. Carolina gave him 65 shooting attempts and 30 shots on net to contend from all over the zone. Sharp angled shots, long-range blasts, deflections, and even a few point blank shots. Schneider nearly got them all. He was bested only by Sebastian Aho sliding in a rebound off the end boards from his knees. There were a couple of spots where it would not have been on him if he was beaten again. But despite the fatigue and the pressure put on by the Canes, Schneider made the stops and looked no worse for wear. Between tonight’s fantastic performance and the shutout over the B’s, I think his slump is ending. Given what the Canes provided, he had to be fantastic.

Second, Andy Greene took a puck to the right eye and left the game during the first period. The Devils’ iron man on defense would not return. This meant a group of Damon Severson, Ben Lovejoy, Kyle Quincey, Jon Merrill, and Steven Santini had to handle the well-structured attack by the Hurricanes. They did the best they could and they did a decent job overall in 5-on-5 play. Some shifts were rough, but on others, they were on point. Penalty killing was an adventure (especially when Merrill took a call in the second period), but with Schneider, they did survive. I can’t speak for you, but tonight’s game reminded me how important Greene can be. If he’s out for any longer than this game, then that’s a real cause for concern.

Third, the Devils managed to get ahead despite some offensive issues. Namely in the second period. The Devils started off all right. The third period wasn’t bad at all; they actually kept pace with the Canes in terms of shots. But the second period. Oh, the second period. Three shots on net out of twelve attempts. In contrast, Carolina put up twelve out of 21 attempts. Fortunately, one of those shots was a shot by Adam Henrique that finished an excellent sequence of passes. Said shot beat Cam Ward to his left cleanly and put the Devils up 1-0. Nice as that was, one would have wanted the Devils to do more to Carolina. Similarly, the Devils drew two power plays and did next to nothing with either. As the Canes out-paced the Devils in attempts, I was hoping it would not just be a night where Schneider needed to keep up a 1-0 score. But there was more of an attack in the third period and the Devils would be rewarded. Cammalleri took a puck off the corner, turned around, it took a bit of a deflection, and it picked the right corner past Ward. It was a surprising shot that made it 2-0. It was an important goal as it gave the Devils some breathing room - which did not last as Aho scored his goal shortly after it. From that point, the Devils were basically trying to hold on. They would seal the win when Kyle Palmieri forechecked Aho with Ward pulled; that forced a turnover that led to a ENG for Palmieri.

Fourth, Carolina just made it difficult with how well structured they were. Despite Henrique’s goal, the Canes did a very good job defending the Devils. With the Devils down to five defensemen, they were able to apply additional pressure when they hesitated or made an error. As much as I feared it live, I was really impressed with how their power play was able to gain the zone and set themselves up consistently. The Devils coaching staff should drop whatever they’re currently doing on man advantages and just try to do what Carolina does. Even though they didn’t convert, ten shots out of four situations with many of them challenging Schneider was certainly effective. The Canes at 5-on-5 didn’t run away with the game, which points to the Devils doing a decent job; but I came away from this game thinking how difficult it must be to play against this Carolina team. Much less after playing the night before and losing your most experienced and important defenseman during the game.

To sum up: Schneider was sensational despite playing very well last night, the Devils scored three goals in spite of a low volume of shots (18), and they survived on the PK while making do with five defensemen. That’s a tough situation - and the Devils prevailed.

The Game Stats: The Game Summary | The Event Summary | The Play by Play Log | The Shot Summary | The Shift Charts | The Natural Stat Trick Game Stats | The Game Stats

The Opposition Opinion: Kyle Morton has this short recap about the game at Canes Country.

Empty Net Goals Rule: Last night, Taylor Hall put home an empty net goal to seal a 3-0 win over Boston. Tonight, Palmieri forced a turnover and fired in the puck to make it 3-1 with two minutes left in regulation. Both goals allowed Devils fans to feel relief instead of gripping their knuckles, holding their breath, and have their hearts pounding in the hopes that the opposition would not provide a late equalizer. Empty net goals just dash those desperate hopes and so I think it’s great whenever the Devils can get one.

I will say that I can respect Carolina not waiting until there’s a hundred seconds left in regulation to go with six skaters. They were very successful in man advantage situations at keeping the play in New Jersey’s end. Getting a man advantage in terms of skaters late in a one-shot game makes sense. Why wait? It could and almost did work. Fortunately, Palmieri did apply some pressure on Aho and he was rewarded with the puck and then the ENG. There could have been a second ENG as the Canes did it again; but Hall missed from his own end.

The Best Skaters: I can appreciate how Cammalleri’s goal was important and surprising. I really liked his pass to Henrique that set up the first goal. And Palmieri put in the empty netter. But the line of Henrique, Cammalleri, and Palmieri really struggled outside of those moments. I was more impressed by the line of Pavel Zacha, P.A. Parenteau, and Taylor Hall (who was jobbed out on a weak goaltending interference call, but whatever). They were able to generate more shots, more attempts (Hall had eight tonight), and they were able to do a better job defending. So while they did not score goals, I would like to see that trio stay together.

On defense, I came away impressed with Steven Santini again. While his minutes were limited, he was forced into some tough stops. He had more shifts, a penalty killing shift, a shift when the Canes pulled Ward, and he did well against players like Viktor Stalberg, Aho, Lee Stempniak, and Teuvo Teravainen - players who aren’t depth guys on Carolina’s forward corps. He did a good job for his second NHL game this season. I also liked how Damon Severson took on the additional minutes, goal against aside.

The Picked On Skaters: Sergey Kalinin, for some reason, lined up at wing with Travis Zajac, who returned from illness, and Nick Lappin. Those three got to play a lot of defense. Kalinin and Lappin provided nothing on offense. More often than not, Zajac would be the one visibly doing his best but one man can only do so much. They combined for two shots on net, both by Zajac, and only one at 5-on-5. The good(ish) news is that the Canes only put up four shots on them at 5-on-5 - but they pinned back that unit a lot. I’m glad Zajac is feeling better but he needs a better unit than that. Especially if they’re going to face the likes of Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask, and Derek Ryan - who were prolific in New Jersey’s end of the rink. That did not go well. Defensively, Ben Lovejoy and Jon Merrill ended up the worst among the bunch, but I’m hesitant to criticize any defenseman given the situation. I think the call on Merrill was soft and it’s not like either were ever about driving any offense.

One Last Thought: Cory Schneider arguably stole this game too, for those who wanted to see #35 carry the team for a night. It can happen. Perhaps it’ll happen more, although I think the Devils would be better off if he (and Kinkaid) get more support.

Your Take: The Devils won 3-1 by beating Carolina for the third time this season. Schneider was sensational and the Devils gutted out a win. What’s your take on this win? Were you impressed with how Carolina performed, particularly on the power play? Who was the best on defense in your eyes tonight? What should the Devils take from this victory ahead of another back-to-back set starting on Friday? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this game in the comments.

Thanks to everyone who commented in the Gamethread and/or followed the site account on Twitter, @AAtJerseyBlog, during the game. Thanks to Devin for previewing this game. Thank you for reading.