The NHL Centennial Fan Arena is in town this weekend as the New Jersey Devils (27-34-12) open up a three-game home stand against the Carolina Hurricanes (32-27-13). This is the fourth and final meeting between these two teams. The Canes are looking for an important two points to keep their playoff hopes alive while the Devils are trying to get back in the win column. Carolina is also closing out a four-game road trip.
The Devils won all three previous meetings: the first in Carolina by a score of 4-1, the second at home 3-2, the third in Carolina 3-1. They were outshot 34-21 in the first game but Michael Cammalleri had a hat trick, which ended his scoring drought; those three goals were his first of the season. Andy Greene tacked on a goal for New Jersey as well, and Andrej Nestrasil scored for Carolina. Keith Kinkaid made 33 saves on 34 shots against (.971 save percentage) while Eddie Lack made 17 saves on 20 shots faced (.850 save %).
New Jersey won the second game in a shootout at home. They outshot the Canes in the second game 41-33, and got regulation goals from P.A. Parenteau and Nick Lappin. Jordan Staal and Klas Dahlbeck scored for Carolina. Parenteau and Taylor Hall scored in the shootout. Cory Schneider started this game and made 31 saves on 33 shots against (.939 save %); Cam Ward made 39 shots on 41 faced (.951 save %).
Again, Carolina outshot New Jersey 30-18 in the third game but Cammalleri (game-winner), Adam Henrique, and Kyle Palmieri (empty-netter) scored goals for New Jersey, and Sebastian Aho (!) scored for Carolina. Schneider made 29 saves on 30 shots against (.967 save %); Ward made 15 saves on 17 shots against (.882 save %).
The Devils do have a back-to-back this weekend and Kinkaid started on Thursday against the Leafs so Schneider will indeed get the start tonight and Kinkaid will likely start tomorrow. The Canes may decide to start Lack tonight because they don’t play again until Monday at home against Detroit.
The Canes are coming off of an impressive win in Montreal, outscoring them 4-1 and outshooting them 23-22. Elias Lindholm, Lee Stempniak (2), and Jeff Skinner. They also had a really good night in the faceoff circle, and Lack made 21 saves on 22 shots against (.955 save %). The Devils fell to Toronto on Thursday, 4-2; John Moore scored both goals and Kinkaid made 26 saves on 29 shots against (.897 save %).
Cammalleri, who has four goals against the Canes this year, is still out with an injury, as are Jacob Josefson and Devante Smith-Pelly. Pavel Zacha boasts a six-game point streak with six assists. Palmieri is two goals and two assists away from 100 in his career. Lappin may still be with out with an injury so Blake Pietila will remain in the lineup. Hopefully Steven Santini is in for Dalton Prout on the blue line.
The Devils have gone 0/7 on the man advantage in the season series; the Canes have gone 1/9. Overall, the Devils have been slightly better in the faceoff circle but they better be up for another challenge tonight.
Surprisingly enough, the Canes have gone 6-0-3 in their last 9 games and have found themselves back in the playoff conversation, only five points behind the Bruins for the final wildcard spot. They’ve had some impressive wins in Montreal, in Florida, in New York (both Barclays and MSG), and at home against Nashville and Minnesota. On the contrary, the Devils have just two wins in their last 15 games. They had a much-needed 3-2 overtime win against the Rangers on Tuesday but were unable to build off of that on Thursday. Maybe the home crowd can put a little pep in their step.
I’ll be at the game tonight! The NHL Centennial Fan Arena opens at 2PM for season ticket holders and members, and at 4PM to the public but will close when puck drops at 7PM.