It wasn’t hard for Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters to assess a 3-1 loss Tuesday to the New Jersey Devils.
The Canes didn’t play with enough pace, he said.
On a night when the Canes could have used a power-play goal, the power play was too slow and predictable, he said.
In game when his team needed a spark, there wasn’t one other than a third-period goal by rookie forward Sebastian Aho.
“We need some guys to get back on the scoring sheet and doing it right and paying the price in order to score,” Peters said.
The Devils (16-16-7) did what the Devils often do against Carolina, turning the game into a 200-foot grind. Goaltender Cory Schneider, for the second straight night, was terrific in net. Forward Mike Cammalleri, who had a hat trick against Carolina n November, was dangerous again in the offensive zone, finishing with a goal and assist.
Adam Henrique and Kyle Palmieri each added a goal and an assist as the Devils beat the Canes for the third straight time this season. And the third was the most stinging for the Canes (16-14-7), who went into the game six points out of playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
Carolina had an 11-game point streak at PNC Arena, going 10-0-1, the third-best run at home in Hurricanes franchise history. Carolina had not lost in regulation since a 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 10, but the Devils found a way to stymie the Canes and win.
“If you’re not skating and passive, they’ll have five guys above you every time and it’s really hard to generate offense that way,” said Canes forward Lee Stempniak, who played for New Jersey last season.
That’s the way the game unfolded. The Devils won despite going a man down when defenseman Andy Greene was struck in the face with a puck in the first period.
It didn’t help, Peters said, that the Canes spent too much time passing the puck from defenseman to defenseman in their zone and not pushing it up the ice.
“We settled for the D to the D to the D to the D, back to the D, and then to them,” Peters said. “I didn’t love our game. … We played slow. I didn’t think we were very good in transition.”
The Canes finished with 30 shots, six by Jeff Skinner, and had 10 on the power play. But other than Aho’s goal, from a tight angle, Schneider had all the answers as he followed up a 3-0 shutout of the Boston Bruins on Monday with a 29-save game.
“I think he’s one of the best in the league,” Stempniak said. “He’s got good size and I think the perfect combination of a guy who’s positionally sound and can rely on his angles and his body to take up space, but he reads the play very well and he reacts. He’s that hybrid.
“I thought we did a better job in the third of getting guys to the net and more pucks, but a guy like that you have to keep them inside the crease and not let them get out.”
Aho’s goal, his eighth, came at 12:24 of the third and pulled the Canes within 2-1. Cammalleri had scored with at 11:30 for a 2-0 lead, but Aho answered, collecting a carom off the boards after a Ron Hainsey shot and curling the puck past Schneider.
The Canes then had a power play, but came up empty for the fourth time in the game.
The Canes have not scored a power-play goal in the past seven games, going 0-for-16. As Peters said, “It’s gone a little dry."
Henrique scored in the second period, on a shot from the right circle that beat goalie Cam Ward, after the Devils kept the Canes on the ice for a long shift. Palmieri’s goal was an empty netter after the Canes pulled Ward for an extra attacker.
“It was a tough game for us and we didn’t play as well as we can,” Aho said. “They have a real good defense and goalie but still we need to get some more (offensive) zone time and find a way to go to the net.”
And find a way to beat the Devils.