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Devils Pull Off Second Straight Comeback, Defeat Hurricanes 5-3

The Devils came back from being down 3-1 to defeat the Hurricanes thanks to a 3 point game from Dawson Mercer. They are now just 2 points back of the division lead.

New Jersey Devils v Carolina Hurricanes
Dawson Mercer had his first multi-goal game and second 3 point game with 2 goals, including the game-winner, and a primary assist on the tying goal
Photo by Josh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images

1st Period

The game started with a quick tempo. The teams skated back and forth, and the Canes had the first couple shots. Wood and Mercer had a 2 on 1 and Kochetkov stopped him and covered up.

The next few minutes continued the quick pace, with the Devils and Hurricanes exchanging chances.

Jarvis cut to the net and Okhotiuk fell over, but Vanecek made the save. Hughes went the other way but Jarvis poked it away on the backcheck. Svechnikov was called for holding in the Devils zone for the first penalty of the game. Hughes and Hamilton played catch. Eventually Tatar got the puck and he took a shot. The rebound came to Hughes with Kochetkov partially out of position and he hit the post. After the penalty expired, the Canes came back with some good plays. Svechnikov took the puck away from Smith and almost scored, but Vanecek made the save.

Staal called for holding. The Canes killed the first 50 seconds thanks to Bratt coughing up the puck twice. The second one led to a shorthanded chance for Fast, leading to a faceoff. Necas won the faceoff to Kotkaniemi, who scored. 1-0 Canes.

McLeod and Boqvist fought for possession in the Canes zone, and Tatar took a slashing call in the neutral zone. As he skated to the box, he was caught on the microphone asking “what?” to the ref. Vanecek saved a Pacioretty one-timer.

After the end of the power play, the Devils entered the zone. They were forced out. Siegenthaler got the puck and went in himself. He shot it from the a sharp angle. The Devils celebrated as if it was in, but it was hard to tell, and the refs went to review. There was an angle showing the puck crossing the line. Good goal, tie game.

The final moments of the period saw Vanecek having to make a flurry of saves.

Overall, it wasn’t a terrible period for the Devils, but the Hurricanes were definitely the better team. The Devils didn’t have any good 5v5 OZ puck possession while Carolina did have some good moments in the Devils zone, forcing Vanecek to make some good saves.

2nd Period

Graves took a tripping penalty 38 seconds in. Canes to the power play. The Hurricanes had a great chance, but Jarvis got his stick in Smith’s face to even things out and cancel out the opportunity for Carolina. The 4 on 4 was uneventful. At the end of the Graves penalty, he came out of the box but the Canes got back in time. Chatfield had a shot with 7 seconds left. Last 8 shots all Carolina.

Zetterlund forced his way past the Canes defense but Burns did enough to lift his stick to negate the chance.

The next several minutes were terrible from the Devils. Shots in the period were 4-0 Canes at this point. The Devils couldn’t get through the neutral zone cleanly, and the Canes kept getting shot after shot. At one point the 4th line was stuck out there for a while and couldn’t do anything. Eventually Pacioretty shot the puck off the glass and flipped the rebound towards goal, where it bounced off of Sharangovich and in. 2-1 Canes. I’m surprised it took that long.

With 8:49 left in the period, Graves finally got the first Devils shot of the 2nd.

A puck came to Bratt in front of a wide opennet and he hit the post on the backhand.

Wood hit Coghlan in the face and got called for high-sticking. The Devils killed it off, and then Martinook was called for high-sticking Siegenthaler. Shots are 22-10 in favor of Carolina. 10 shots after almost 23 of the game is not usually the way to win games.

Aho to Teravainen to Aho shorthanded. 3-1. Not sure what Hamilton was doing on that play. 2 shorthanded goals for Carolina. They have more shorties than the Devils have goals period in this game.

The Canes had a 2 on 1. The shot wasn’t a good one, but Vanecek stopped it nonetheless. Mercer got a stretch pass. It went off his stick and past him, but he hunted it down behind the goal line, drove to the net, and forced a backhander through Kochetkov to cut the Canes lead in half.

Off the faceoff, the Canes won and dumped it in. McLeod got to it and passed it up to Boqvist, who carried it out and to the Canes zone. Boqvist got it to Mercer and Coghlan fell down as he bumped into Boqvist. Mercer gave it back to Boqvist, who drove to the net alone and scored. TIE GAME! 2 goals in 18 seconds for the Devils! Same as the previous goal, a backhander through the 5 hole. And that’s 2 primary points for Mercer in 18 seconds.

By the way, time for some Bill Spaulding and MSG crew appreciation. During MSG broadcasts I rarely have trouble figuring things out, or who did what and when, but tonight I’ve had to go back a few times. Bill is usually good at telling us what happened and the MSG crew always has a good replay ready. Thanks to Bill and the MSG crew for making my job easier!

3rd Period

Hughes took a shot that Kochetkov made a pad save on

The first 6 minutes have been more balanced than the rest of the game, and there have been few shot attempts for either team.

A pass in the Hurricanes’ zone bounced off a Canes player’s skate and right to Boqvist. He was all alone and tried to deke before passing back to Mercer, but the pass went through him before he could shoot. Necas took it the other way but it was broken up at the Devils blue line. The puck came flying up into the air and McLeod knocked it to Boqvist. He passed to Mercer who split the defense and put it past Kochetkov. Devils lead, 4-3!

The Devils have turned the tables, and now it’s the Canes with just 1 shot 13 minutes in to the period.

Palat had a 1 on 1 chance and went flying headfirst into the net. He’s lucky to be fine.

Smith made a good play to strip the puck from Jarvis 1 on 1.

Kochetkov to the bench with about 2 to go. Mercer made to great play to waste a few seconds and clear the puck down, although it was icing. (doesn’t the puck have to cross the goal line? it didn’t.) Carolina called their timeout.

Graves blocked a shot and the Devils managed to get it out to Hischier. He skated close to the net and hit the post with the shot, but he was awarded a goal because Staal hooked his arm from behind. First automatic goal I’ve seen live. 5-3 Devils with under a minute to go, and that’s that.

Note that the Hurricanes had a measly 4 shots in the 3rd period, while trailing for some of that time. This was a tale of two games. The first 39 stunk, the next 21 were fantastic. Deserve to win o’meter heavily favors Carolina in this one, saying the Devils only win a similar game 20% of the time. It’s nice to have a win like this though - they never seem to happen often for the Devils.

Boqvist and Mercer both cracked droughts today. Mercer hadn’t scored a goal in 12 and he potted 2 today. Boqvist hadn’t had a single point in 20 games and he had the tying goal and primary assist on the game-winning goal. That brings me to my next takeaway from today, the depth scoring. For a while, even with Hischier’s goal streak, it seemed like the only Devil who could score was Jack Hughes. Today, he had no goals, but Boqvist had 1, Mercer had 2, and even Siegenthaler had 1. If this is a sign of the depth scoring returning for the Devils, that would be great. They were getting more of it during the win streak before they hit a cold stretch. This also puts the Devils within 2 points of Carolina for the division lead, as I mentioned. The next 4 games are out on the west coast against San Jose, Anaheim, LA, and Seattle. LA and Seattle have been pretty good this season, but SJ and ANA should be easy wins. As one of the better teams, the Devils will hope to get those 4 points and win one of the LA/SEA games and nab 6/8 points. Carolina has now lost 4 in a row, giving the Devils a chance to catch up to them and retake the division lead. Also, I’ve had no mention of Vanecek in my post-game thoughts here, but he made some solid saves in this game, saving almost a goal (.88) above expected. Good win for the boys. Next game on Friday in Anaheim at 10pm. I’m recapping that one too. Leave any comments you have below, and thank you for reading.

One last fun fact if you didn’t catch it during the game: This was the first time the Devils had back-to-back multi-goal comebacks since 2001!