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Raanta Shuts Down Devils in 2-1 Loss to Hurricanes

The Devils played well against the Hurricanes, but Antti Raanta was a wall in net with 24 saves on 25 shots and 1.71 GSAx

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Carolina Hurricanes
The Devils would play well but only be able to put a single goal past Canes netminder Antti Raanta
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The New Jersey Devils (15-22-5) faced off against the Carolina Hurricanes (29-9-2) on Whalers night in Carolina.

1st Period

2:18 into the game Colton White got hit hard in open ice by Steven Lorentz

6:39 in a rebound went right to Dawson Mercer who just missed scoring the first goal of the game

The Hurricanes would strike first as Jordan Martinook potted one on a spin-o-rama 8:02 into the first.

New Jersey would get the first PP of the game as he was taken down by Svechnikov at the side of the Canes net with 10:45 left in the 1st

The Devils couldn’t get much cooking and the Canes had a successful kill

Johnsson had a great chance from Tatar but Raanta made the save. Carolina would go the other way and the puck would slide into the Devils’ net after a shot by Svechnikov, doubling the lead for Carolina.

With 2:34 left Jesper Boqvist would cut the lead in half on a 1-timer on a feed from Jimmy Vesey after Kuokkanen gained the zone and fed Vesey from near the goal line.

Subban took a high stick from Neiderreiter with 6.9 seconds left in the period. He may have added some flair to his reaction, but escaped without an embellishment call.

2nd Period

After the power play the Devils got an odd man rush but Zacha fired it wide. The Canes would go the other way and Gillies made the save

Jesper Boqvist got himself a breakaway with 10:30 left in the period. He tried to go backhand 5-hole but Raanta was there and it went off his pad instead.

Jesper Bratt pulled a couple sweet moves to walk some Canes defenders with 5:35 left in the 2nd but once again Raanta came up with a pad save. I couldn’t find the full clip but here’s Bratt making Jaccob Slavin look silly (and unfortunately getting robbed by Raanta)

The Hurricanes would get their first power play of the game with 1:55 left in the 2nd.

With just 7 seconds left in the period, Bastian had a shorthanded breakaway and once again Raanta made a big pad save

3rd Period

Gillies made a huge save on Neiderreiter at 9:38 of the 3rd to keep the Devils within reach. Both Neiderreiter and Bastian took penalties and there was a 4 on 4 for 2 minutes

The Hurricanes came very close to doubling the lead but the puck did not cross the goal line as PK Subban made the save, pulling the puck away before it could bounce off the post and in.

Carolina headed to the power play with 6:22 left in the 3rd as Siegenthaler took a tripping penalty on Svechnikov

The Devils almost had a shorthanded 2 on 1 but Hischier lost the puck with a Hurricane on his tail

Jon Gillies would vacate the New Jersey net with about 2 minutes remaining. The Hurricanes would have several shot attempts, but the Devils blocked all of the attempts that didn’t miss the net. They would get a few chances of their own but could not tie the game before the horn sounded.

Standouts

Jon Gillies had a strong game with .93 goals saved above expected. He made several good saves that kept the Devils in the game. He kept Carolina to 2 goals when they probably should’ve had 3. He finished with 21 saves on 23 shots. This was the type of goalie performance that can win you games, but unfortunately for the Devils, the man in the other net was even better. Hopefully this is a performance to build on for Gillies and the Devils will finally get themselves some solid goaltending.

Speaking of the man in the other net, Antti Raanta was certainly a standout. He almost got the 1 timer from Boqvist that was the lone Devils goal, and he did get everything else. Raanta shut the door after the Devils’ first goal. He made 24 saves on 25 shots and had 1.71 goals saved above expected.

At the other end of the spectrum was Ty Smith. He did not have a good game. His offense wasn’t great and his defense was miserable. I saw him get beaten several times. I counted 3 mistakes on 1 shift at a point during the game. He finished with an even-strength xGF% of 24.17. That is not what I would call good. Smith needs to be better. Last season he looked like a future 1st pair defenseman. His defense was bad, but Severson covered up his mistakes and his offense was great. His defense has gotten worse and his offense has mostly disappeared. Hopefully it’s just an extended funk, a bad sophomore slump exacerbated by a preseason injury. Ty Smith is supposed to be an important piece for this New Jersey Devils team and they need him to bounce back in a big way.

Although xGF% is basically just fancy +/-, the Devil who had the highest even strength xGF% led by a very large margin. Jonas Siegenthaler was that man with an xGF% of 73.70. 2nd place was Janne Kuokkanen with 57.46. Considering Siegenthaler only had 1 offensive zone start (and even without considering that), I’d say that’s pretty darn good.

Jesper Boqvist was noticeable at times, using his speed to gain the line and winning some OZ puck battles. However, in typical Boqvist fashion, he didn’t really make plays or get to the danger areas of the ice. Still, he managed to get open to score a goal and finished with an xGF% of above 50, so not a bad game for him. I just wish he would use that great speed and shiftiness to get to the middle of the ice and make plays more often instead of letting his skating ability go to waste.

For Carolina, Sebastian Aho had a great game, with an even strength xGF% of 74.96 and .86 xG of his own. Neiderreiter and Svechnikov had good games as well and were noticeable throughout the match.

Final Thoughts

The Devils played a pretty good game, finishing with an xGF% of 48.05% (excluding the 6 on 5) against a very good team. They managed to get a goal from a depth player and Gillies was good in net. There was a pretty noticeable problem, though. The Devils, trailing 2-1 the entire time, only had 3 shots on goal in the entire 3rd period. Just 3. They led in xGF% 65.14 and 53.33 the first two periods. That’s a pretty nice advantage. Raanta had a great game but if they’d gotten some shots on net in the 3rd they could have tied it up. A lucky bounce or a good overtime or shootout after that and the Devils would’ve turned a game in which they trailed 2-0 into a comeback win against the top team in the division. It feels like the Devils have been consistently like this for a while. They play a game where they should win or could’ve reasonably won and just can’t get shots on goal late, or can’t finish, or get poor goaltending. The Devils are 18th in 5v5 xGF%. 2 average and 1 good of goaltending, special teams, and finishing and they could be a playoff team. This was a winnable game against a tough team and the type of game teams need to win if they want to succeed.

The Game Stats: The NHL.com Game Summary | The NHL.com Event Summary | The NHL.com Play by Play Log | The NHL.com Shot Summary | The Natural Stat Trick Game Stats

All stats in the article are from www.naturalstattrick.com, nhl.com, or yahoo.com

Got anything to add? Upset by the lack of shots in the 3rd? Will Antti Raanta’s pads be in your nightmares tonight? Head to the comments below and share your thoughts, and thank you for reading.