Newark, N.J. — The Carolina Hurricanes' 4-2 road loss to the New Jersey Devils on Monday can't be traced directly to an anemic power play. But it didn't help their cause that the unit finished 0-for-5 in man-advantage opportunities, leaving the Canes (0-2-1) winless three games into the season.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored the game-winner for the Devils at 6:06 of the third period when he inherited a pass from behind the Canes' net and converted from the door step for his first goal of the campaign. Zach Parise added an empty-net goal at 18:54 for the final margin.
Carolina had a great chance to break a 2-2 tie with a 44-second, 5-on-3 power play in the third period but failed to convert. Through three games, the Canes have scored only two goals in nine power-play chances. In a Columbus Day matinee game that drew an announced 12,096 to the Prudential Center, none of the six shots Carolina took on its power plays found the back of the net.
The Devils' penalty kill is now 13 for 13 on the season.
"The 5-on-3 changed the game," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "I thought we had to work really hard to get on anything, but that's a function of playing three games in a short period of time."
The power play appeared sharp in the loss at Washington on Saturday, with Staal scoring a pair to give him 88 on the man advantage for his career. Against the Devils, he recorded two shots on goal overall.
"We needed to cash in there," Staal said about the 5-on-3. "We didn't get as good enough looks as we wanted. We have to be a little sharper with our passing and get some pucks on net. We didn't do a good job on that."
Chad LaRose tied the game at 2-2 in the second period by picking up a loose puck at center ice, then skating in untouched and shooting a blazing wrister that sailed past Devils' goalie Johan Hedberg at the 12:47 mark. "He and Staal, that's the first bit of chemistry we've seen," Maurice said about the recent decision to move LaRose to the Canes' top line with Staal and Jeff Skinner. "We're going to assess that first line."
LaRose managed five shots on goal in 13:27 of ice time and was chosen as the third Star of the Game. He logged only 18 seconds of ice time with the power-play unit.
"I thought we had a pretty good game, we were skating well," LaRose said. "We created a lot of good opportunities. I thought the guys had a lot of good looks on the 5-on-3. We just have to stay positive and not get frustrated.
"We got the right group of guys out there, and eventually it will start getting in the net."
Alexei Ponikarovsky, a free-agent acquisition from Los Angeles, drew the Canes even at 1-1 when he fired in defenseman Tim Gleason's pass from the mid-slot past a screened Hedberg at 8:56 of the second period. Less than a minute later, New Jersey's Mark Fayne moved his team back ahead with a slap-shot from the right point.
The Hurricanes' inability to move the puck out of their own end forced goalie Cam Ward to make four saves in the first 2:30 of the game and resulted in Parise's first goal of the season. The Devils' captain snuck behind Canes' defenseman Jay Harrison on the right face-off circle and re-directed Patrick Elias' wrist shot from the near post at 3:59.
Carolina managed eight shots in the opening period, but just three in its two power-play opportunities. Defensemen Jamie McBain, Derek Joslin and Ryan Murphy were healthy scratches for the Hurricanes.