This wasn’t the start the New Jersey Devils imagined to open the second half of their season.
New Jersey allowed five goals through the first two periods against the Carolina Hurricanes. It tried to mount a third period comeback for the third straight game, but as the Hurricanes (14-9-1) held on to defeat the Devils (11-9-5), 5-3, at PNC Arena.
Jiri Tlusty recorded his second multi-goal game against the Devils, finishing with three points (2g, 1a). Alexander Semin also collected three points, and three other Canes finished with multi-point nights. Carolina has won two straight games against the Devils.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice for New Jersey, who have won just once in its last eight games. They remain in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the New York Rangers.
Trailing 5-1 in the third period, the Devils scored twice to pull within two.
Kovalchuk scored his second goal of the game just 22 seconds into the period to cut the deficit to 5-2. The Devils right wing collected a loose puck behind the Hurricanes net before sending a spinning pass into the crease. It deflected off the skate of Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk and past Dan Ellis for Kovalchuk’s ninth goal of the season.
Patrik Elias brought the Devils within two at 4:21 of the final period. Anton Volchenkov held the puck at the left point, sending a cross-ice pass to Marek Zidlicky at the right point. The Devils defenseman fired a shot that Elias re-directed past the glove of Ellis for his eighth goal of the season.
New Jersey wouldn’t mount much after that. Unlike its past two games, when the Devils found offense late in the third period, it failed to score after the Elias goal. Zidlicky came close to cutting the Hurricanes lead to one, but put his shot off the left post with just over two minutes left in regulation.
Ellis finished with a season-high 31 saves for his fourth win of the season.
Carolina scored twice in 28 seconds to take a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Semin opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 12:16 of the opening period. He started the play, diving to send a loose puck into the corner. Joe Corvo pinched down from the point and stripped Andy Greene of the puck. Semin slipped behind the Devils defense, and Corvo found him wide open in the slot in front of Johan Hedberg. He faked to the right before pulling the puck to his backhand and shooting it into the net for his seventh goal of the season.
Jason Harrison extended the lead with his third goal of the season. Jordan Staal led a three-on-two rush, taking a shot that Hedberg stopped. Zidlicky failed to clear the rebound in the slot, and Harrison knocked it past Hedberg with a backhand shot.
Kovalchuk cut into the deficit with a shorthanded goal at 14:40 of the first period. The Devils right wing blocked Faulk’s left point shot and broke in alone on Ellis. He waited until the last moment before firing a wrist shot under the glove of the Hurricanes goalie for his eighth goal of the season.
New Jersey leads the league with seven shorthanded goals. Kovalchuk leads the team with three.
Carolina scored three goals in the second period to open up a seemingly insurmountable 5-1 lead.
Tlusty scored his 12th goal of the season to put Carolina ahead, 3-1. Ellis displayed his puck-handling skills, firing a pass from his crease to Semin at the Devils blue line. That started a three-on-one rush for the Canes, with Semin carrying the puck into the right circle. His fed an open Tlusty with a pass at the right post, and the Hurricanes center tapped the puck into the net.
Chris Terry stretched the lead to 4-1 with his first NHL goal in his first NHL game. Volchenkov failed to clear the puck past Hurricanes defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti at the left point. His point shot deflected off Eric Staal in the right circle and popped into the air. Adam Larsson couldn’t control the bouncing puck, and Terry beat the Devils defenseman to it, sliding a shot through the pads of Hedberg for the goal.
Jeff Skinner capped the scoring, knocking home a Tim Gleason rebound for the fifth Hurricanes goal. He came untouched to the front of the net, knocking the puck away from Hedberg as the Devils goalie went to cover up the loose puck. He swept the loose puck into an open net for his ninth goal of the season.
The three goal period chased Hedberg from the game. He finished with 13 saves on 18 shots and was pulled for the second time in three games.
Jeff Frazee started the third period for the Devils. He’s the fourth goalie New Jersey has used in a game this season, and became the second this week to make his season debut. The Hurricanes failed to score on three shots against the Devils backup goalie.
Tlusty iced the victory with an empty-net goal late in the third period, his second score of the game.
Tonight’s Devils loss opened a back-to-back weekend series against Southeast Division teams. New Jersey returns to the Prudential Center tomorrow to face the Winnipeg Jets. They fell to 2-4-0 in the first games of a back-to-back series, and are just 2-3-0 in the second game.
Elias has a goal in three straight games. The Devils left wing has 25 points in 25 games.
New Jersey allowed the first goal for the ninth straight game tonight. They’re two away from tying a franchise-record 11 straight game allowing the first goal.
Kovalchuk extended his points streak to three games. The right wing has scored four points (2g, 2a) during that streak.