The New Jersey Devils arrived at PNC Arena for the first time since Feb. 2020. It was Whalers night and the Carolina Hurricanes donned their throwback green sweaters and utilized Brass Bonanza as their goal song for the game. The two clubs would battle in front of a sold-out crowd as head coach Lindy Ruff’s team was seeking their first win in a week while the home team was looking for their fourth straight victory in front of their fans.
Once again the effort was there for New Jersey but they were unable to complete the comeback and fell short for the second time on their road trip. For the first time in six games, the team was unable to score on the power play and the Devils were handed their fourth consecutive loss. Here are three takeaways from the Devils’ latest loss.
Boqvist Plays His Best Game of the Season
The loss of Michael McLeod led to an opportunity for 23-year-old Jesper Boqvist, who took his place on New Jersey’s fourth line. Last night marked his 17th appearance of the season and while he only played 9:53, he made the most of his time on the ice. With less than three minutes to go in the first period, he received a pass from Jimmy Vesey and ripped a one-timer that got behind Antti Raanta. He finished the game with three shots on goal which at one point, led all Devils players.
“I thought he really skated well,” said Ruff of Boqvist’s performance. “You know, he was dangerous almost every time he was on the ice and scored the goal and had two or three other opportunities.”
Devils Inability to Finish Leads to Another Loss
The team’s inability to finish has been a recurring theme of the 2021-22 season. The trio who made up the fourth line were the only players who made it onto the scoreboard even though there were 14 different players who registered at least one shot on goal. Last night Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt’s saw their respective point streaks come to an end as the Devils were unable to mount the comeback and score a second goal.
“We missed three breakaways,” said coach Ruff. “You know, it’s kind of the same sort of picture that we painted in Tampa, where we had a lot of good opportunities but you don’t finish. We had the opportunities to get back in the game and take a lead in the game in the second period and we weren’t able to capitalize on some of those key offensive opportunities.”
The Devils can’t expect Bratt and Hughes to carry the team the rest of the season. The club is still looking for more from players like Pavel Zacha, Tomas Tatar, and Andreas Johnsson. Each of the aforementioned players has been struggling this month. Johnsson has three points since Jan 2, and all three came against the Hurricanes when they visited New Jersey on Jan. 22. Tatar is pointless in his last eight games while Zacha has one goal and one assist in January.
Gillies Continues to Give the Devils a Chance
Last night Jon Gillies appeared in his fifth consecutive game and made 21 saves on 23 shots. Last night marked the sixth time this season that a Devils goaltender did not allow the opponent to score in the final two periods of the game. The first Hurricane’s goal was scored by Jordan Martinook who spun around and got the puck behind Gillies. Andrei Svechnikov’s shot, which became the game-winner, trickled in past Gillies with a little over five minutes left in the period.
After the game, coach Ruff said maybe they would want those two goals back, but continued to say that Gillies bounced back and again gave his team a chance to tie the game specifically citing how well he played during Carolina’s last power-play opportunity.
The Devils are off today and will face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night at Scotiabank Arena for the first of a home and home ahead of the All-Star break.