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Devils Fold and Collapse as Canes Take Game 2, 6-1


New Jersey Devils v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Two Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

First Period

The first great chance of the game came when Timo Meier was set up by the net, but Frederick Andersen covered the puck after Meier whiffed on the puck. Bastian had funneled it from the corner along the goal line to the front of the net. The first penalty of the game came shortly after, as Jesper Fast kneed Nico Hischier late, after the puck was already gone. He was called for tripping. Nico took awhile to get up, but stayed on for the power play.

The power play looked good early. They worked the puck all around the zone, working a great deflection chance for Hischier that Andersen saved. Then, Dougie Hamilton blasted a shot off the iron, but they were unable to get another shot for awhile as the second unit came on and quickly gave up a chance against. After regaining the zone, Tomas Tatar was high sticked by Jordan Martinook, and the Devils went to a five-on-three with 23 seconds left on the original power play.

At five-on-three, Nico Hischier set up a Jack Hughes shot that was saved by Andersen. The Devils kept it moving, and Hischier tried to create a dirty goal for Timo Meier — and Andersen fought off the attack to cover the puck with his legs. Back at five-on-four, Tomas Tatar broke the defense down and set up a wide open chance for Bratt, but Bratt shot it too early at the pad when he had the open net if he waited just a split-second longer. Late in the power play, Andersen made a glove save on a Meier shot from the circle.

Akira Schmid made two huge saves on Jesperi Kotkaniemi a couple minutes after the power play. Kotkaniemi came fast down on the rush, pulling Schmid out a bit to make the save. Kotkaniemi got the rebound and shot it as well, forcing Schmid to make a hard move right to make the stop, with the puck bounding off the pad up into his chest for the cover.

After Carolina threw several huge hits, Kevin Bahl took a minor penalty for tripping with a bit over four minutes to play in the period. Meanwhile, Ryan Graves left for the locker room after being charged behind the net by Jesper Fast, as he was shaking his hand going to the room. On the penalty kill, the Canes were forced to keep to the outside until a puck got to Nico Hischier, who cleared at the end of the first minute. By the end of the kill, the Canes only got one shot on their advantage.

With under a minute to play, Damon Severson was called for high sticking, as Seth Jarvis skated into his stick on a clearance. The referees actually huddled for this one, calling the penalty back on account of it being a follow-through. They would later call a penalty on the Devils anyway with four seconds to play, with Noesen going down with some contact with Jonas Siegenthaler. It was a garbage interference call — they were at a standstill by the net. Nonetheless, the period ended scoreless.

Second Period

Ryan Graves returned to the ice for the second period, and Akira Schmid made an early stop on the Canes’ power play. However, the Canes kept possession as the Devils seemed a bit timid to get to the puck. Ryan Graves got a clear at the end of the first minute, but the Devils did not get any fresh legs until 45 seconds were left in the kill. After a draw, the Devils overloaded the side and left Kotkaniemi open for a shot that beat Schmid under the blocker arm. 1-0, Canes.

Akira Schmid then made some huge stops, with the help of Ryan Graves and John Marino. Stastny had walked the defense and set up a chance to the side of the net with Schmid down, and the defensemen had to clog up the crease. Schmid had to make a few saves after that before the Devils took possession back. Then, after an offensive zone draw, the Canes took it all the way down the ice, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi got into space amidst three or four Devils and beat Schmid again. 2-0, with Doguie Hamilton in no-man’s land on the play.

The Devils did not play very well this period. They were able to get some shots on goal between some rushes to the net and shots from further out. But Andersen was sharp for everything, and the Devils continued to struggle with completing passes or being in the right places defensively. This led to a Jordan Staal breakaway with two and a half minutes to play, and he beat Schmid with the backhand. Ryan Graves was nowhere to be seen after John Marino was dusted at the blueline on a pass-in. 3-0.

Brent Burns and Tomas Tatar were given coincidental minor penalties as they came together and took whacks at each other at the blueline. For the final 1:52 of the period, the game was played at four-on-four. Seth Jarvis trucked Akira Schmid on a rush, and Brady Skjei put the puck into the net. No goaltender interference was called at first, but they waved off the initial goal after a referee huddle. The Canes would get their fourth goal anyway, as Dougie Hamilton skated himself into no-man’s land again on a rush against. Schmid tried to poke the puck away, but Slavin got it right back and the puck went off the post. Gostisbehere kept it moving to Necas, who beat Schmid as he was sprawling around. 4-0.

Third Period

The Devils actually showed up for the start of the third period, getting a couple offensive zone shifts in the opening minutes. The fourth line got the most ice time early on, and it paid off. Nathan Bastian forced Gostisbehere to turn it over by the blueline, and McLeod drove the puck toward the net, dropping it for Miles Wood to slam past Andersen. 4-1, with a bit over 16 minutes to play.

With a bit over half the period to play, Chatfield went to the box for roughing Curtis Lazar. The Devils could not get set up in the first half minute, and they finally got possession in the offensive zone in the second minute after a two-on-one was barely averted with a bad pass. The power play was terrible.

After Jesper Bratt missed the puck on what could have been a breakaway, Nico Hischier made a pass right to Jordan Martinook on the blueline. Martinook, on his breakaway, beat Vanecek over the shoulder. 5-1. Stefan Noesen made it 6-1 on a pass across from Sebastian Aho right after. And that’s the score the game ended with.

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

The Opposition Opinion: Check out Canes Country.

Get Ready for Blackwood

After Akira Schmid was pulled from the third of his last four starts, Vitek Vanecek did not look like he had any of the answers that Schmid did not have tonight. Since the Devils have Mackenzie Blackwood in the press box, I expect him to get the nod in Game 3 at this point. Is it what you want? Hah. I mean, Vitek could get the start. But at this point, I’m expecting a decision to get the “spark.” I hope Mackenzie has kept himself ready.

Play Luke Hughes

The New Jersey Devils can’t play Luke Hughes because he’s young and inexperienced, and the Carolina Hurricanes will be forechecking too fast for him to deal with it. He’s just going to make a mistake, and we can’t have any mistakes in the playoffs.

Oh yeah, I don’t have any sarcasm font for that.

Did any Devils defenseman make a legitimately good play with the puck tonight? Did anyone look comfortable, save maybe Severson, against the Carolina forecheck? Who wasn’t out of position at least five times?

So why can’t Luke Huhges play, again?

We Need Shooters (Looking at Sharangovich, Holtz)

Last Game 2, Lindy Ruff made the galaxy-brained decision to put Brendan Smith in for Jonas Siegenthaler. While I think many expected Smith to play as a seventh defenseman, Ruff made an even better (where’s that font?) move to play Curtis Lazar on the third line with Timo Meier and Dawson Mercer.

And we wonder why the team is struggling offensively.

Yegor Sharangovich is sitting around twiddling his thumbs. He has been effective with both Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes at times, but he’s been forgotten and tossed aside of late. Meanwhile, Jesper Bratt can’t make anything happen, Nico Hischier looked like a shell of himself tonight, and Ondrej Palat is missing open ice passes from Jack Hughes, who is visibly frustrated on his shifts. Get Yegor in.

And if the team is really serious about getting some more offense, they should consider letting Holtz ride with Jack and Timo. Does that mean someone gets scratched? You bet it does. Will Ruff do it? Well, he might scratch Bratt — but I doubt he gets adventurous enough to put in a sniper to go up against one of the worst goalies in the league at stopping clean shots in open ice. Instead, they’re going to keep going heavier and try to beat the big man close to the net, where the Canes have everything clogged up. It’s all going great.

Your Thoughts

What did you think of tonight’s game? Did you find yourself stunned to silence? Too angry to watch? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for reading. Hopefully Game 3 goes better.