Opportunity slips away in Hurricanes 3-1 loss to Devils

James Guillory—Reuters
Carolina Hurricanes defensemen Brett Pesce chips the puck past New Jersey Devils forward Adam Henrique during the first period at PNC Arena. The Devils defeated the Hurricanes 3-1.

RALEIGH — Opportunities, on both a small and a large scale, were available to the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday at PNC Arena. In the team’s 3-1 loss to New Jersey, the power play came up empty in four chances and the Hurricanes’ opening to gain ground on the Philadelphia Flyers for the Eastern Conference’ final playoff spot slipped away.”We needed something earlier in the game,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. “We need our power play to, on a night like tonight, give us a boost. … The power play had four opportunities — you need to get on the board.”Coming into the night six points behind the Flyers for the second wild card spot with three games in hand, Carolina (16-14-7) was looking to close the gap in the ultra-competitive Metropolitan Division and also pay back the Devils for two previous losses.”We knew coming into tonight that they won the previous two games against us and wanted to have a good response, said Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner, whose point drought hit five games in the loss. “We weren’t able to come up with it.”The Devils played the night before, a 3-0 shutout win over Boston, and were down to five defenseman for the final two periods when captain Andy Greene left the game with what looked like a hand or wrist injury suffered blocking a Jordan Staal shot.However, Carolina failed to jump on the Devils early, and even couldn’t capitalize when New Jersey was down to four defensemen to start the second period with Greene out and Kyle Quincey getting equipment repairs.”I didn’t think we exactly played fast,” Peters said. “We try to play with a little more pace than that. For some reason tonight we didn’t play fast at all. … If they are down bodies or playing back to back, you want the tempo to be up. It’s up to us to create that pace and we didn’t do that.”More than half the game was deadlocked at 0-0, with neither team allowing — or generating — much of anything offensively.The goose eggs finally came off the scoreboard with just over five minutes remaining in the second period after an odd sequence involving Carolina defensemen Matt Tennyson and Noah Hanifin.Tennyson and Hanifin attempted to exit their own zone, but after several passes back and forth behind the Hurricanes net, Tennyson wound up icing the puck. Stuck with tired legs, the Hurricanes chased the Devils after the faceoff until New Jersey veteran winger Mike Cammalleri found Adam Henrique at the hashmarks for a one-timer and the 1-0 lead.Peters said he decided against using his timeout that early in the game to rest his players before the faceoff.”We know what to do in that situation,” Peters said. “It’s a tight game, didn’t think we need it. Wanted it for the end, wanted it for a challenge if necessary, right?Cammalleri then got a goal of his own in the third, his 10th of the year and fourth against Carolina this season, courtesy of a couple favorable bounces.Cammalleri collected a rebound off a missed shot and wheeled around from a sharp angle. His slap shot hit Carolina defenseman Jaccob Slavin’s stick then the goal post bend above Cam Ward’s right shoulder and in to make it 2-0 at 11:30 of the third.It looked like the Hurricanes might be shut out for the first time in nearly a year, but rookie Sebastian Aho got the deficit back to less than a minute after Cammalleri’s tally.Aho got Carolina’s lone goal — his eighth of the season — for the second straight game when he whacked in a rebound off the end boards to end Cory Schneider’s bid for two shutouts in as many nights.But nearly as quickly as Aho made it close, he gave the Devils the lead back.With Ward (15 saves) at the bench for an extra attacker with almost three minutes left, the Hurricanes pushed for the equalizer. But with the puck in his own end, Aho flipped a pass that Kyle Palmieri intercepted and put in the empty net for a 3-1 lead at the 18-minute mark.The loss ended Carolina’s run of 11 straight games with a point at home and gave them just one win in three games since Christmas.”We haven’t played as well coming off the break, and that’s disappointing,” Peters said. “It’s just reality — we haven’t played as well as we were going into the break. So we gotta find a way to get that back.”Notes: Justin Faulk and Elias Lindholm missed the game with injury, and Klas Dahlbeck was a healthy scratch. … The team announced earlier Tuesday that Eddie Lack was diagnosed with another concussion, and AHL goalie Daniel Altshuller was recalled to back up Ward in net. … Aho has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his last nine games. … With an assist on Aho’s goal, Teuvo Teravainen now has points in five straight games (one goal, four assists). … The game was Slavin’s 100th in the NHL.