newjerseydevils.com – Devils head coach Brent Sutter doesn't plan to make any drastic changes, but said Wednesday that he wants his team to get back to focusing on the details.
The Devils have won four of their last six, but have allowed the first goal three times over their last four outings, including Sunday's comeback overtime win over Ottawa.
New Jersey fell behind, 3-0, Tuesday in Carolina before making things close in a 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes.
"You have to recognize why you're not playing well because eventually that catches up to you," Sutter said. "Last night [in Carolina] wasn't one of our better games. We didn't give up many scoring chances, but we didn't create a lot of quality scoring chances either because we did some things that we don't normally do. It comes down to getting the players' level of play back to where it needs to be."
Sutter's bold move to pull Scott Clemmensen on the power play with eight minutes left in regulation helped the club chip away at the three-goal deficit, but New Jersey's comeback bid came up short.
Paul Martin's power play goal on the improvised 6-on-4 made it 3-1 with 7:48 left, and Patrik Elias
added his 18th of the season with 21.5 seconds remaining. Sutter revisited the goaltender move following Wednesday's practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion.
"It's a hunch that you have," he said. "At that stage, what do you have to lose? What are you protecting, a 3-0 lead and a power play with eight minutes left when you haven't had many scoring chances?"
Sutter pulled it off once before while coaching in Red Deer (WHL), and wound up scoring off the ensuing 6-on-4 while trailing 3-0. The Rebels scored at even-strength, then again on a man advantage before winning 4-3 in overtime.
"When you look at the first one, we scored on it, we did it again, and if we scored on that one with four-and-a-half minutes left it would have been a 3-2 game," said Sutter of the Devils' Carolina rally. "And we scored with 21.5 seconds left. It's just a hunch you have. You don't want to be doing it all the time, but every now and then when it occurs, you react to it."
Elias, who added an assist against the Hurricanes, tied Zach Parise
for the team points lead with 46 (18g-28a), and extended his points streak to four games. He supported Sutter's gamble.
"I liked it," Elias said. "You're down 3-0 you have a power play and usually in this game it's tough to get back from a three-goal deficit, in the third period, especially. It was a good move."
Sutter said he used Wednesday's skate to get his players back where he feels they need to be. New Jersey hosts slumping Atlanta on Thursday, then heads west to open a six-game road trip beginning Saturday in Los Angeles.
"We're still finding ways to win games, but if you continue to let things get away from you it's just going to snowball," Sutter said. "We're trying to nip things in the bud and make guys realize it and see it and we're going to deal with it.
"At this point in time there's no need to shake anything up. I think it's just little things since the Rangers game [on Dec. 27] that we've allowed to get away from our game. There are things that we have to get better at doing again."
Sutter said that defenseman Colin White (upper body) will be back in action Thursday after missing five games. As of Wednesday afternoon, no decision had been made on who will come out of the lineup.