By Pat Pickens
The New Jersey Devils tried with all their might to enhance their five-game win streak– especially in the third period– Tuesday night.
But in the end, nights like Tuesday are why teams don’t go undefeated.
Led by notorious Devils foil Cam Ward, and the suddenly scorching Jiri Tlusty, the Carolina Hurricanes left Prudential Center with a 4-2 win over New Jersey.
Ryan Carter‘s third-period goal tied the score at two just 1:34 into the period, and the Devils had numerous chances to re-take the lead, but could not beat Ward again. Tlusty’s power-play goal proved to be the difference maker. Tlusty added an empty-net goal, his fourth tally in two games.
Martin Brodeur stopped 21 shots.
Just seconds before Tlusty’s game-winner, the Devils had a glorious opportunity to take the lead.
Yet, when Adam Henrique missed an empty net, you could feel the Canes would capitalize.
And sure enough, just seconds after Patrik Elias’ pass missed Henrique’s stick, Tlusty potted the game-winner on the power play when his fluttering shot beat Brodeur.
Bobby Butler also narrowly missed tying the score at the end of the third, but his lunging try was not quite long enough to beat Ward. Just seconds after that, Tlusty hit the empty net, effectively ending the game.
Just days after we began pushing for a new name for the Henrique-Elias-Clarkson line, that line only registered a single point.
David Clarkson also was a minus-1, failing to register a point for just the second time this season — and also the second time in three games. Clarkson’s penalty — a trip on Jussi Jokinen — also led to Tlusty’s game-winning goal.
Ward also twice thwarted Clarkson’s breakaway opportunities, including a key pad stop just 36 second into the third.
Elias was the only line-member to record a point when he notched a secondary assist on Ilya Kovalchuk‘s first-period power-play goal.
Jokinen always seems to have eventful games against New Jersey.
You might remember this goal he scored in the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs that beat the buzzer. And sure enough, the Finnish forward had another eventful affair Tuesday.
Jokinen took a pair of penalties, but played a strong game, scoring a power-play goal and drawing Clarkson’s penalty.
My apologies to all you who cringed at that clip. I did too.
Eric Staal, another notorious New Jersey adversary, had two assists, including the primary on Tlusty’s winner.
Andy Greene, who Pete DeBoer said last week was playing the best hockey he’d seen, had a tough game Tuesday night.
Greene was a minus-2 and lost Jokinen on his power-play goal. Greene also took a devastating penalty when he hooked Alexander Semin with just 2:38 to play.
Kovalchuk, all of a sudden, has a four-game point streak.
His goal came from a point shot that beat Ward cleanly, though the official originally waved off the goal. In fact, 3:14 came off the clock before play stopped, allowing the officials to review and finally rule it a goal.
Our Jeff O’Connor pegged a flat performance, and I received texts from other Devils fans who were frustrated by Tuesday’s lethargic effort.
It’s certainly not ideal, but a let downs are a reality. The Devils had won five straight games and were coming off back-to-back wins against their staunchest Atlantic Division competition. Plus, they were playing their third game in four days, which is no easy stretch.
New Jersey will get two days off and, I’m sure, be in peak-form with Philadelphia calling on Friday.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic:
N.Y Rangers (7-5-0) 4, Boston (8-1-2) 3 (SO)
Philadelphia (6-7-1) 3, Winnipeg (5-6-1) 2.
The Flyers and Rangers are both coming on. New York’s won three straight and Philadelphia’s earned points in five of its last six contests.
Up Next: As I mentioned, the Flyers will make their second trip to Prudential Center, Friday at 7 p.m.
Pat Pickens is a lifelong Devils-fan and New Jersey native. To pay the bills, he works as a sports reporter for Hearst in Connecticut. Send him an email at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter here.