Tracking the Storm: Analysis from New Jersey
-- A night after finding a way to snag two points when perhaps the team’s best effort wasn’t present, the Carolina Hurricanes could not find much in a 3-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils in Newark.
"It's tough to spot a team three goals in the first, especially this team. They do a good job locking things down through the neutral zone, and they make it tough to generate a lot of chances," Jeff Skinner said. "A couple too many breakdowns and a few turnovers that [ended up] in the back of our net. It's tough to come back from that."
-- The Devils, who also played last night in a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at home, were all over the Hurricanes from the get-go. The Canes were not crisp transitioning the puck out of their own zone, and the Devils took advantage of this.
Former Hurricane Tuomo Ruutu was the first to get New Jersey on the board, as he provided traffic in the slot and got his stick on Adam Larsson’s point shot. Later, Adam Henrique sped past John-Michael Liles, who had trouble corralling the puck at the blue line, to score on a breakaway. Then, with 27 seconds left in the period, Andy Greene snuck in uncovered to score and make it a 3-0 game.
Asked what disappointed him the most about the first period, head coach Bill Peters responded simply, "Our puck management."
"I think it may have been what we did to ourselves. A couple times we turned it over in some tough areas, and they made us pay," Skinner said. "They did a good job being in those lanes and capitalizing on those mistakes, but those are mistakes that we can correct."
That was more than enough to bury the Hurricanes, who got a goal off the stick of Jeff Skinner – his fourth in six games – in the final seven minutes of the game.
"It's tough to generate offense when you can't get through [the neutral zone] cleanly and generate offensive zone time," Skinner said. "Getting down three goals early is tough against any team in this league, and they did a good job of limiting our chances from there."
-- Even in such a lopsided first period, it wasn’t like the Canes did not have their chances. Victor Rask was turned away by Keith Kinkaid on a partial breakaway. Alexander Semin’s drag wrister fired off Kinkaid’s glove and then the crossbar in a play that was reviewed.
"I thought we worked for our chances, and we had some good ones in the first," Skinner said. "We couldn't get them to go."
"I thought early there were chances both ways, but they seemed to tighten up and we never did. I thought we gave up too many chances throughout the game, and once it became 3-0 with 20 minutes to go, they don't need to score again," Peters said. "They did a good job clogging up the neutral zone and blocking shots. We were just too loose with the puck."
-- Keith Kinkaid, making his 12th appearance of the season, pitched a 17-save shutout in a second’s shy of 34 minutes of work. He left the game in the second period after lunging over to challenge a shot off the stick of Justin Faulk. After being attended to, he got to his feet and skated off the ice and was replaced by Cory Schneider.
-- Eric Staal nearly posted his second fighting major of the season and third of his career late in the first period. Behind the net, he was high-sticked by Marek Zidlicky, which went uncalled. (It should have been a four-minute double-minor, as blood was drawn.) The two proceeded to cross-check and slash one another before discarding the gloves and coming together. The officials stepped in before any punches were thrown, so the two were given matching roughing minors. Staal received an extra slashing minor, because retaliation I guess.
As was the case I night prior in Raleigh, the penalty kill was again perfect, though, successfully dispatching all three of New Jersey’s power plays.
"The PK has been great for us all year, and they did a good job tonight," Skinner said.
-- The Hurricanes are now set for another set of two straight home games before hitting the road again to wrap up the month of February. They’ll host the Flyers on Tuesday and the Capitals on Friday.
But before looking to the game on Tuesday, Peters wants to see how the team responds in practice on Monday.
"It looks like some young guys have either hit a wall mentally or physically. We'll have to try and figure out what it is. If it's physical, we'll have to make sure they rest, and if it's mental, we'll have to help them through it," Peters said. ""I'm looking towards Monday. We need a good practice. We'll see who can compete in practice and then make a lineup for Tuesday."