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Canes’ defense, goaltending falters in high-scoring loss to Devils

The Hurricanes took an ugly loss to the Devils Saturday night, falling 7-4 in New Jersey.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at New Jersey Devils Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Canes just weren’t sharp Saturday night in New Jersey, falling to the Metro basement-dwelling Devils 7-4.

Carolina got off to an early 2-0 lead, thanks to Andrei Svechnikov and Ian Cole, but let the Devils come right back into it late in the first period on two goals from Nathan Bastian. Josh Leivo and Brady Skjei scored for the Hurricanes in the second period, but it wasn’t enough to hang with an onslaught of goals from the Devils.

Along with Bastian’s two, Michael McLeod, Andreas Johnsson, Jesper Bratt, Jack Hughes and Pavel Zacha scored for the Devils.

Jack LaFontaine got his first NHL start in Carolina’s net, and it went pretty poorly. LaFontaine allowed all seven New Jersey goals, making 31 saves on 38 shots faced. While every goal certainly wasn’t on LaFontaine, with the Canes playing some iffy defense in front of him, he allowed a handful that you’d certainly expect an NHL goalie to stop.

Jon Gillies wasn’t superb but good enough in New Jersey’s net, stopping 28 of 32 shots faced in a win.

The Hurricanes could’ve let an awful travel situation get to them early, but instead jumped out to another really strong start. Svechnikov scored just 2:20 into the game, unleashing a wicked wrister from the boards that found the tightest of angles to get by Gillies.

A few minutes later Cole made it 2-0, as the Hurricanes put on some good forechecking pressure after a shot from Vincent Trocheck rang the post. The puck made its way to Cole, who blasted one from between the circles for his second goal with Carolina.

But from there maybe things caught up to the Canes, with Carolina seemingly entering cruise control and New Jersey bringing the game to the Canes. It paid off on the scoreboard late in the period, as Bastian got a super friendly bounce off the end boards and batted it in to make it 2-1.

Less than two minutes later Bastian struck again to tie the game, redirecting one from the net front.

Leivo came out in the second period and scored his first of the season, making a fantastic play to collect the puck on the blue line and skate in to roof one.

New Jersey tied it at 3-3 as a big rebound off LaFontaine was collected by McLeod and put in the net. The Devils made it 4-3 on a well-executed odd-man rush, as the Canes played some slipshod defense and left Johnsson completely alone to snipe one past LaFontaine.

After an empty power play, the Hurricanes tied things back up at 4-4 as Derek Stepan and Skjei linked up for a lovely little goal.

But then New Jersey scored once again, making it 5-4 with its third goal of the period from Bratt, who got the puck and laced it past LaFontaine after the Canes failed to clear the puck from the defensive zone.

Rod Brind’Amour stuck with LaFontaine for the third period and he settled in a bit, making some good stops early on in the period.

The Canes went on a push and started threatening a tying goal, but had that derailed after Ian Cole took his second penalty of the game. The Devils went to the power play and converted, as Hughes sniped one past LaFontaine to make it 6-4.

The Devils made it 7-4 a minute later, with LaFontaine giving up the near post that was hit by Dawson Mercer. The rebound went to Zacha, who scored.

The Hurricanes have the next two days off before returning home Tuesday for a meeting with the Vegas Golden Knights.