NEWARK, NJ - The Devils are, rightfully so, frustrated.
They've done a lot of things right lately. They've had the lead. They've just not gotten the ultimate reward.
"Strong effort," head coach John Hynes said following last night's 4-3 shootout loss to Philadelphia. "I think when you look at the game it was a well-played game. Unfortunately, we came up, again, without the two points."
The Devils have managed at least a point in four of their last five games, but after a slow start to the season the team is looking to piece together a string of complete efforts.
"I think we did a lot of good things and definitely could have won that game," goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood said after the loss. "We need to find a way to get some points here. It's pretty frustrating losing games like that and we seem to be on that side of them a lot lately."
Tonight will be a big challenge as the Hurricanes are hot right now, having won three straight.
SPECIAL TEAMS IMPROVEMENT
It's not hard to see the improvements the Devils have made on special teams. A quick peek at their game log and you'll see a major difference.
The devils went six-straight games to begin the season without scoring a single power-play goal. They were 0-for-18 in those outings.
Since Oct. 17, the Devils have scored a power-play goal in four-straight games, including last night against the Flyers.
"I thought they did a great job there," Captain Andy Greene said of the power play last night. " Had some nice plays there and that's good. Hopefully, special teams have a great night again tonight and let's worry about the five-on-five play here and go from there."
"They've done a good job," Hynes said of the power play. "I think their attention to detail on the power play was good. We're funneling the pucks into the net. They're making good decisions. That was an area where we, obviously, struggled early, but it's been good as of late and we've got to continue to build on it."
The penalty kill has also been bolstered of late. Leading up to the Lightning game on Wednesday, the Devils had blanked opponents on the man advantage in three straight (15-for-15). They allowed one to the Lightning, but bounced back against the Flyers, keeping Philly's PP off the board on all three of their attempts.
Sami Vatanen joked earlier this week with njd.TV that the reason he celebrates goals in practice is that he rarely scores them in real games.
Maybe he jinxed himself.
The Devils defenseman scored last night against Philadelphia and has four tallies this season, matching his Devils career-high from last year. His NHL high was 12 back in 2014-15 with Anaheim.
"Sami's playing really well," said Hynes. "I mean, he's really playing well in all situations. He's done a nice job on the power play. I think his five-on-five games is really in order and he's been a real big key for us, particularly on the back end so far this year."
-- Chris Wescott, NewJerseyDevils.com
DEVILS (2-5-4) at HURRICANES (9-3-1)
TV: 7:00 p.m. ET; Televised on MSG
Tonight's game is the first of four meetings between the two teams this season.
Last season, each team won twice with the home team winning each game. Pavel Zacha led the way for the Devils with five points in four games.
Devils team scope:
The Devils just completed a six-game home stand in which they went 2-2-2. After starting the season 0-4-2, they've picked up points in four of their last five games (2-1-2) and held leads in all eight home games played this season.
Taylor Hall leads the Devils with 11 points through 11 games. The club's leading goal scorer is Kyle Palmieri. Blueliner Sami Vatanen is off to a hot start with four goals and seven points through 11 games. Vatanen had four goals in each of the last two seasons.
Hurricanes team scope:
The Hurricanes won each of their first five games this season and are back on a roll having won their last three straight.
Defenseman Dougie Hamilton is off to an outstanding start with 16 points through 14 games. Hamilton had 39 points in 82 games last year. Andrei Svechnikov is the top-scoring forward on the club with 14 points. Erik Haula leads the team in goals with seven.
By the Numbers:
The Devils are 24th in the NHL on the penalty kill at 75% and 26th in the NHL on the power play at 14% but since October 17, the Devils are seventh in power play at 24% and first in penalty kill at 94.7%.
With eight wins and 17 points in October, the Hurricanes matched the most wins and points in franchise history in that month. They had achieved both feats in 2005-06, the season they also won the Stanley Cup.
Carolina has scored at least two goals in all 14 games they've played this season. Scoring two tonight would tie the franchise record of 15 set by the 1985-86 Hartford Whalers.
The Hurricanes are 4-2-0 when trailing after two periods this season. Last year, they were 3-20-3 in the same situation.
Devils -Connor Carrick (fractured finger) is out
Hurricanes - Jordan Martinook (core muscle injury) is out