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Five observations from New Jersey vs Carolina:
1. The Devils responded well
The Devils were desperate for points, at home, and facing a tired Hurricanes team that realistically wasn't playing for anything. That didn't show in the opening period. They were really sloppy with the puck and made it too easy for Hurricanes players to get to the net. There were a couple occasions where the Devils would allow a player to walk in and get a clear shot, then collect his own rebound and get another. It was almost as if the Devils just expected the Hurricanes to extend their hands and offer a free two points, which clearly wasn't the case.
After gathering themselves in the 1st intermission, a much different team took the ice. The Devils started using speed, and extra energy, to their advantage. They were 1st to loose pucks, won more battles, and were able to generate more sustained pressure in the offensive zone.
Over the final 40 minutes, the Devils out-chanced the Hurricanes 21-11 and out-scored them 3-1. They really needed the win and their play reflected that.
2. Keith Kinkaid did his part
Though the 2nd goal was probably one he'd like to have back, I thought Kinkaid was solid overall.
The Devils did not defend well in the 1st period. Kinkaid came up with enough saves to weather the storm and keep them in the game.
He wasn't as heavily relied upon over the final 40 minutes. Still, there were a few breakdowns where the Hurricanes had odd-man rushes, or breakaways, and Kinkaid came up with big saves.
3. Kyle Palmieri was a monster
When Palmieri is on, he is one of the better snipers in the game. Last night he was on.
From start to finish he was shooting anything and everything. He fought through contact to get himself some good looks. He found soft spots to tee off, or deflect, from while on the power play. Anything to get himself into good shooting position, he did.
No. 21 finished the game with nine shot attempts, five scoring chances, and a pair of goals. He also tallied an assist, which came from Zacha burying the rebound of a Palmieri shot.
He has a really good, and heavy shot, so if he's spoon fed opportunities, he's going to convert.
4. Another Hart Trophy caliber performance from Taylor Hall
Hall was once again one of the best players on the ice. Shocking, I know.
He stayed on for an extra sequence in the early minutes and it resulted in Pavel Zacha's goal to jump out to an early lead. He made a couple great passes picking up primary assists on each of Palmieri's goals. He also fired five pucks on net.
The individual numbers were great. More importantly, the on-ice results were as well. Obviously, he played a big role in the power play clicking the way it did and the Devils had a 12-7 chance advantage at 5v5 with their MVP candidate on the ice.
It was another great showing across the board.
5. Stefan Noesen came up big
It was really nice to see Noesen rewarded with a massive goal late in the game because he deserved it. I think he's been one of the team's better, and more consistent, bottom-6 players this season.
He started the game alongside Travis Zajac and Blake Coleman but John Hynes moved him – and Michael Grabner – up to play with Pavel Zacha on the 2nd line. That certainly paid off.
In less than five minutes together at 5v5, the Devils out-attempted the Hurricanes 8-3 and out-chanced them 5-2. They sustained some heavy shifts in the offensive zone and Noesen's game-winner was a direct result of that.
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