During the Devils’ five-game winning streak, coach Pete DeBoer had expected something resembling perfection from his penalty killers and a power play that was improving with every opportunity.
So when those two units finally looked ordinary in a 4-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at Prudential Center, DeBoer was less than pleased.
"We lost the special teams battle and we lost the game," DeBoer said. "Their power play got two goals. Through our streak we had won the special teams battles almost every night, either with a power play goal or we’d shut the other team out with our penalty kill. Tonight we lost those areas of the game and couldn’t recover from that."
It was the Devils’ first loss at home this season in regulation time after going 5-0-1.
"You’re not going to win them (special teams battles) every night but it’s a huge part of success at this level and particularly in a shortened season. So you have to win them most nights,"
The 1980s Devils didn’t win many battles at all until the end of that decade, but a trio of familiar faces from that era found a formula that works well against the current team.
Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller and assistants John MacLean and Dave Lewis gave DeBoer a taste of his own medicine.
"I thought Carolina played an extremely good defensive game," goalie Martin Brodeur suggested. "We had a hard time getting to them and they spent a lot of time in our zone, even though they didn’t create much. They played a really good road game and we had a hard time getting through them.
"Their energy level at times was pretty amazing for them playing back-to-back and us being rested. We had a hard time handling their ‘D’ pinching. They kept a lot of pucks in — like we like to do on teams."
Devils fall to Hurricanes, 4-2, as five-game winning streak ends
Newark Star-Ledger | Feb 13