NEWARK - The Carolina Hurricanes had their three-game winning streak snapped in a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday afternoon.
Marcus Johnasson scored a pair of goals, while Keith Kinkaid made 32 saves in the Devils' second straight win against the Canes this season.
Here are five takeaways from this afternoon's game.
Head coach Rod Brind'Amour was admittedly concerned about how the start of the game would play out.
"The start is going to be crucial. Whenever you come off a pretty emotional game and then take a day off and don't get the chance to refocus in the morning is obviously a concern," he said before the game. "We'll talk about it and hopefully the guys will do what they have to do to be ready for the start."
As it turned out, the team that played the day prior was sharper from the start than the team that hadn't touched the ice since Friday.
The Devils built a 2-0 lead in what was a flat first period for the Hurricanes.
Video: CAR Recap: Hamilton, Teravainen score in 3-2 loss
"It wasn't good enough," Sebastian Aho said. "I think we all know that."
Former Canes defenseman Ryan Murphy, playing in his first game with the Devils since being traded from Minnesota on Jan. 30, gained the zone on the power play and dished a backhand pass to Pavel Zacha, who scored on a one-timer.
In the last minute of the period, Marcus Johansson deposited a near-side rebound to double the Devils' lead.
"We just weren't very good in the first period as a group," Brind'Amour said. "They score a power-play goal, and then we're behind 2-0 and chasing the game."
While the Devils connected on their lone power play in the first period, the Canes failed to convert on three of their own in the opening frame, a chance for the man advantage to spark the club.
"I didn't like the power play and the way it started because it sucked the life out of this group," Brind'Amour said.
"We have to work harder than the defensemen to work on getting the pucks and making some good plays," Teuvo Teravainen said. "You've got to handle the pressure."
The Canes did finally break through on the power play in the third period in what was a 6-on-4 advantage, as Nino Niederreiter fed Teravainen for a one-timer down low.
Video: CAR@NJD: Teravainen cuts deficit with late PPG
Perhaps that's something the man advantage can build off of moving forward.
"We had good pressure. It was a long shift in their end. We had some chances, and we kept going after them," Teravainen said. "Nino made a good play. We made one, but we couldn't score [another]. It wasn't enough."
For as flat as the first period was, the Canes were much better in the second. They controlled possession, limited the Devils to just two shots on goal and halved the deficit.
"We just started working harder and playing our game," Aho said. "It's just that simple."
Dougie Hamilton scored his 10th goal of the season when he fired off a shot on a delayed penalty sequence that beat Keith Kinkaid through traffic from Niederreiter in front.
Video: CAR@NJD: Hamilton rifles puck home through traffic
"We didn't like our start. We just focused to get better. We talked about just playing our game," Teravainen said. "We just couldn't come back today."
"I like that we finally got playing, but the problem with this group is that the margins are so tight that you can't afford a bad period," Brind'Amour said. "We got going and played pretty good after that, but you've got to play 60 minutes or you're not going to have success."
The Canes appeared to have tied the game in the third period, only to have the goal waved off.
It happened in December, as well, in what was a much more egregious ruling. This was an understandable call, though the accompanying penalty was somewhat odd considering the circumstances.
As Aho shot a puck that found the back of the net, Niederrieter was jockeying in and around the blue paint with Damon Severson. Niederreiter overpowered Severson, and he went down, taking Kinkaid with him. The call on the ice was interference by Niederreiter on Severson - not goaltender interference, which could have been challenged but certainly not overturned - and the whistle would have blown with Aho's possession of the puck had it not snapped off his stick and into the net in virtually the same instance.
"I think they're both battling. The one guy who's a little stronger got a little more leverage," Brind'Amour said. "It's a battle in front. That's the thing. I understand why they called it no goal, but I certainly wouldn't think that would be a penalty."
It was an unfortunate set of events that took valuable even-strength time off the clock in the third period, but had it not been for a languid start, the Hurricanes might not have needed that anyway.
Putting on the rosy/Hurricanes red glasses for this one, because it's important when considering the bigger picture.
This loss stings, for sure. They all do.
One, the Hurricanes didn't give away points to a team they're chasing in the standings, and they still have an opportunity ahead of them to collect eight of a possible 10 points on this road trip. Looking at this stretch from afar, that's a good week of hockey.
"It's a sour taste. We should have won that game. We needed it. They don't. That's the part that frustrates me," Brind'Amour said. "Now we have to focus on the next game and find a way to get that one."
The Hurricanes wrap up their longest road trip of the season in Ottawa on Tuesday.