NEWARK, NJ (AP) — Jesper Bratt scored the game-clinching goal late in the second period and the New Jersey Devils rallied to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 7-4 on Saturday night.
Nathan Bastian scored twice, Andreas Johnsson had a goal and two assists, Michael McLeod and Pavel Zacha each added a goal and an assist and Jack Hughes also scored for New Jersey, who snapped a three-game skid. Ryan Graves had three assists and Dawson Mercer added two.
Jon Gillies finished with 31 saves while replacing Mackenzie Blackwood to claim his first win in four games since acquiring St. Louis in December.
“He gave us a few saves. Obviously, the start of the game probably wasn’t exactly what we wanted,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. Playing the puck in front of the net was exceptional. Would he want a few goals in return? Yes, he would like them, but apart from that he made some good saves at key times for us.
Andrei Svechnikov and Josh Leivo each had a goal and an assist for Carolina, and Ian Cole and Brady Skjei also scored. The Hurricanes snapped a three-game winning streak.
Jack LaFontaine made 31 saves in his first career start, nine days after the former University of Minnesota goaltender allowed two goals on three shots in his NHL debut.
“It’s the NHL, there are a lot of good players,” Leivo said of LaFontaine’s game. “He’s from college. He still made a lot of saves. They had about 40 shots, so he just has to keep his head up. It wasn’t his fault. I don’t think our team played the best. … The way we play (typically), I think we would have had a better result. So he has to keep his head up. He has a lot of hockey ahead of him.
Bratt’s goal, his 11th of the season, with 1:41 left in the second gave New Jersey a 5-4 lead – it’s the game’s second advantage after trailing 2-0 and 3 earlier -2.
After Cole was called off for holding Janne Kuokkanen, Hughes got his 10th on a power play wrist shot with 7:09 left in the third to give the Devils a two lead. Zacha scored his 10th just over a minute later to make it 7-4.
“We had a few guys playing pretty well, but not 20, that’s what we need,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Give them credit. They played hard. They do what they want to do. I don’t think we’ve done much.
Leivo got his first at 3:25 of the second to give Carolina a 3-2 lead before McLeod’s third equalized again nearly 5½ minutes later.
Johnsson received a cross pass from Mercer and beat LaFontaine with 8:44 left in the middle of the period to give the Devils their first lead.
Skjei tied the game again with 4:26 left in the period.
“It was definitely not the way we wanted to play. It’s not our game. I never found it. Our game is to get pucks behind their defensemen and be tough on them,” Skjei said. “So we have to learn from that, but everyone in the dressing room knows that’s not our way of playing.”
Svechnikov put the Hurricanes on the scoreboard 2:20 into the game and Cole doubled the lead 3:24 later.
Bastain scored twice 1:40 apart late in the opening period to equalise. His second of the night and eighth of the season came on a slap shot from inside the blue line and past LaFontaine.
” It’s awesome. Especially coming back from two goals,” Bastian said. “Maybe we’ve seen in the past that we lose two, we’re pretty hard on ourselves as a group and it’s hard to fight back and then find a way out ourselves by first, and I was really good to see.”
NOTES: New Jersey D Ty Smith (upper body) has been placed on disabled reserve, retroactive to Jan. 19. Dr. Colton White has been recalled from the taxi crew. … LW Teuvo Teravainen (lower body) participated in pre-match warm-ups and was eliminated during the match.
Hurricanes: Welcome Vegas on Tuesday night.
Devils: hosts Los Angeles on Sunday night.
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