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Devils Fall Short in Carolina, Ward Finds Goal Column


After being home for the holidays the New Jersey Devils hit the road to take on the Carolina Hurricanes last night in Raleigh, North Carolina.  The Devils came into the match up 7-3-0 in their last 10 games after posting a shootout win on home ice over the Washington Capitals before the brief holiday break.

The Devils would also see some familiar faces behind the newly rebuilt Carolina bench.  Head Coach Kirk Muller, former Devils Captain and Assistant Coach John MacLean, also a former Devils Captain, Assistant Coach, Head Coach, and until a week ago all time goals leader in the Devils Organization.

Johan Hedberg would get the start for the Devils, however their winning trend with Moose between the pipes was absent.  Trailing the Hurricanes the Devils were unable to score until the later part of the third period.  David Clarkson was the first to strike for the Devils beating Cam Ward with a blast from the point.  5 minutes later Adam Henrique would cut the Canes lead to 1 with a  goal off of a rebound with just 2:20 remaining in the game.

The Devils naturally pulled their goaltender in attempt to tie the game.  With Hedberg on the bench and the extra attacker on the ice the Devils swarmed the Carolina offensive zone.  It was then that Ilya Kovalchuk tried to reach Adam Henrique on the left point.  The pass was errant and escaped a diving Henrique as the puck sailed into the gaping net at the other end.

Watch Video Here: Kovalchuk scores on own net

The goal was originally awarded to Brandon Sutter as the pass appeared to have gone off his stick, deflecting it past Adam Henrique and into the empty net.  It was then determined that Cam Ward, the Hurricanes goaltender, was the last Hurricane player to touch the puck thus crediting him with the goal on the Kovalchuk error.

Game Breakdown:


  • Hedberg played well for a goaltender who has not seen game action in nearly a month.
  • Penalty Kill still sharp, even when tested with extended with 5 minute major paired with an additional 5 v 3.
  • Adam Henrique continues sharpen his goal scoring senses, seems like he knows where to be and when to be there.


  • Short handed goals, Kovalchuk may be the biggest offensive threat at the point on the Power Play, but his struggles to hold the zone and his poor decision making whether to pinch or play defense is becoming a trend that continues to hurt the Devils.
  • Too little, too late.  The Devils were unable to score until late in the game leaving themselves little time to make a full comeback.  Thus, coming up short in the end.
  • Careless Penalties.  Ryan Carter found the penalty box more than the puck in this game.  Throwing careless checks that ultimately resulted in a 5 minute major and a game misconduct that removed him from the game and put his team at a disadvantage.  It is one thing to play a tough physical game but you have to choose your opportunities.


The Devils are still trying to find themselves as a team.  There have been times throughout the season where they have dominated the competition and other times where they have simply beat themselves.  Last night was an example of them leaving the door open.  Allowing a struggling Carolina team to step up to the plate and get a much needed win.

The abundance of penalties early in the game gave Carolina many opportunities to get off to a good start.  The Devils lacked focus and although their penalty kill continued its outstanding performance, the  momentum was very much in the hands of the Hurricanes.  The Devils were able to get themselves into position to tie the game but the inconsistency of Ilya Kovalchuk prevailed as the errant pass that found his own net sealed the deal for the Hurricanes.

Kovalchuk has struggled all season to find consistency.  There have been many instances, like the game against Washington last Friday, where he has dominated the game by putting up big numbers, and coming through in clutch situations.  But this is quickly forgotten when he struggles to put up points and ultimately ends any chance of a Devils win with an own goal in the closing minute of a 1 goal game.

When asked after the game Kovalchuk stated, “We find a way to make the game interesting. We were all working hard, but a bad decision by me at the end cost us a game.”

This is not to say he is the sole reason for the Devils loss, but it is frustrating for fans to see his lack of focus and costly mistakes result directly in losses.  After all hockey is a team sport and if the Devils as a whole could consistently play a more complete game the results could be very different.

Next Game:

The Devils return home Wednesday night to face off against the Buffalo Sabres.  The Sabres come into Newark coming off a home win over the Capitals.  The Sabres are in the midst of a mediocre season so far just 2 points behind the Devils and holding the 9th spot in the Eastern Conference