The Carolina Hurricanes couldn’t find much to like about Sunday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.
The Devils, getting a hat trick from Mike Cammalleri and a smooth, strong game from goalie Keith Kinkaid, topped the Canes 4-1 at PNC Arena.
A day after playing one of their best games of the season in beating the Nashville Predators on the road, the Canes took a step back at home. They were 0-for-4 on the power play. While getting off 34 shots in the game, they had 20 blocked by New Jersey and missed the net – scatter-shooting – with another 18 attempts.
The Devils (5-5-3), beaten 4-1 Saturday by Tampa Bay, had more jump, more desperation to their game. They also had Cammalleri, who had not scored this season but often has found the net against the Canes (3-5-3).
In the second period, the Devils had just two shots. But both were by Cammalleri, always the sniper, and both went past Canes goalie Eddie Lack and into the net.
Cammalleri added his third goal in the third period and defenseman Andy Greene had a late empty netter as the Devils won on the road for the first time this season.
Andrej Nestrasil, who had eight shots, scored the Canes’ goal about 13 minutes into the third. Carolina pulled Lack with more than four minutes left in regulation and had a six-on-four power play after a penalty against the Devils, but couldn’t score again.
“Everyone was just a step behind and that it made it difficult for us to create more and play the way we want to play,” center Jordan Staal said.
Canes defenseman Justin Faulk left the game with an undisclosed injury and did not return. Carolina coach Bill Peters was not sure about the severity of the injury.
After a scoreless first period, Cammalleri scored at 4:31 of the second off a cross-ice pass from Travis Zajac. His second came at 7:56 of the period, after forward Jacob Josefson skated the puck out of the New Jersey zone and found Cammalleri open on the wing.
Cammalleri now has 280 career goals. He knows how to bury shots.
“He doesn’t need much space,” said Canes forward Lee Stempniak, who played for the Devils last season. “He’s got a deceptive shot and great release.”
Kinkaid had 33 saves in his second start of the season as the Devils’ workhorse, Cory Schneider, had a day off. Kinkaid, now 4-1-0 in his career against Carolina, faced 29 shots in the final two periods, but only Nestrasil could score, his first of the season.
Carolina’s power play produced seven goals in the first seven games of the season, but the Canes now are 0-for-12 in the past four.
“It comes down to execution,” Canes coach Bill Peters said. “It comes down to confidence, and it comes down to all five guys doing their part.
“If you think it’s going to be easy, it’s not. Penalty killers are hard workers at every level, but especially in the National Hockey League.”
The Canes did everything well Saturday against the Preds. Goalie Cam Ward was sharp and the Canes rallied to tie the score in the third on Ron Hainsey’s shorthanded goal, then won the shootout on Jaccob Slavin’s goal.
The Canes returned home for their “Hockey Fights Cancer” game at PNC Area, with an emphasis on cancer awareness and raising funds for cancer organizations. The Canes’ players wore lavender jerseys in the pregame warmup that were to be later auctioned to provide some of the funds.
The announced attendance of 8,650 was the smallest in the past two seasons — Carolina had 9,021 for the Arizona game last December.
The two Metropolitan Division teams will face off again Tuesday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Asked about playing the Devils again so soon, Staal said, “We’re going to have a better effort.”