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Devils hold off hard-charging Hurricanes for 3-2 win | TribLIVE.com
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Devils hold off hard-charging Hurricanes for 3-2 win

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Carolina Hurricanes right wing Justin Williams, center, and teammate Nino Niederreiter (21), fall onto New Jersey Devils defenseman Ben Lovejoy (obscured) and goaltender Keith Kinkaid, top right, during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Newark, N.J. Devils’ Blake Coleman (20) and Kevin Rooney (58) look on.

NEWARK, N.J. — The beleaguered Devils have had an eventful week with injuries, trades and everything in between. The only thing they couldn’t manage during the first three games of a homestand was a win.

That ended Sunday with a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at Prudential Center. With the ‘Canes desperately trying to jump in the playoff picture, the game became a gritty, physical battle for a depleted New Jersey roster.

“Two words we’ve really talked about all this week: Fight and focus,” coach John Hynes said. “Fight is your battle level, your competitiveness and battling for each other. I thought that was strong, particularly in a back-to-back against a team who wasn’t in it. We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game.”

The game was marred by penalties and Carolina took advantage with 1:27 left when Teuvo Teravainen scored a power play goal to cut the Devils’ lead to one. With the Carolina goalie out of the game, the Devils held off the extra-man attack with the game coming down to the final faceoff, won by Kevin Rooney.

The Devils took seven penalties and amassed 17 minutes in the box but the penalty kill went 1-for-5.

“It felt like a really long hockey game,” forward Blake Coleman said. “Games always feel a little bit longer when you’re on the kill for a long period of time. It’s tiring and it’s hard minutes but everybody stepped up and did their job.”

Jesper Bratt sealed the win for the Devils with a highlight-reel goal with just 4:04 left to play in the third period, set up by Marcus Johansson, who had two points. Pavel Zacha and Johansson also scored in the first period and Nico Hischier had three assists.

Keith Kinkaid made 32 saves for his third win since the new year.

The Devils shook up the lineup inserting recent call-ups Nick Lappin and Ryan Murphy, the latter of which the Devils recently acquired in a minor league trade with the Minnesota Wild. The results were seen almost immediately when Murphy set up Zacha on the power play at 11:35 to earn his first point as a Devil.

Johansson potted a rebound in the last minute of the first period to give the Devils a 2-1 lead.

The Devils weathered a second-period hurricane from the Hurricanes. They managed only two shots on goal with Johansson unable to repeat that last-minute magic. He was denied by Petr Mrazek on a high-danger chance from the slot with just 53 seconds left.

Kinkaid was knocked around quite a bit in the second with a few collisions in the crease and a high stick that made its way under his mask but yielded just one goal on eight shots in the period. Dougie Hamilton scored on a long shot through traffic at 7:22.

But the offensive generation picked up significantly in the third period with an early power play resulting in four shots on goal. The top unit did everything but score New Jersey finally played the best kind of defense there is in hockey: Offense.

The Devils made a strong third-period push and it was even stronger after the Hurricanes had a goal waved off. Kinkaid kept them in the game just long enough for Bratt to fly down the left side and take a no-look pass from Johansson for the goal, his sixth of the season.

“Once he beat his guy I kind of knew the puck was coming and I just tried to get into position,” Johansson said. “Great play by him. That goal was all him.”