Hurricanes-Devils Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 09, 2011
The New Jersey Devils aren't too concerned after one game, but this is not how they wanted 2011-12 to begin. The Carolina Hurricanes are also in search of their first win, but at least they were pleased with their most recent effort. The Devils continue their three-game homestand Monday afternoon when they go for their fourth straight victory over the Hurricanes, who will try to avoid their worst start in five seasons. After opening 0-5-2 at home last season as part of a 10-29-2 overall start that led to the club's first non-playoff season since 1995-96, the Devils (0-1-0) want to avoid playing catch-up again. New Jersey, though, didn't look ready to go in Saturday's 3-0 season-opening loss to visiting Philadelphia. The Devils were only shut out twice on home ice last season despite scoring a league-low 171 goals. "Obviously, it's not the way you drew it up,'' first-year Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "It looked to me like we were at practice speed and they were at NHL game speed. Our reaction time never caught up to where there's was tonight.'' New Jersey needs its power play to improve after firing just two shots on net in five opportunities. "We're going to have to elevate our game," winger Zach Parise said following his first game as team captain. "... With us not generating much, we sometimes helped them. We turned pucks over. We have to have a little more patience. You could definitely tell they had played one game and we hadn't.'' Continuing a stretch of six of seven on the road, the Hurricanes (0-1-1) will try to avoid losing their first three games for the first time since opening 0-3-1 in 2006-07. Coach Paul Maurice, though, was more than satisfied with his team's 4-3, overtime loss at Washington on Saturday after it was routed by visiting Tampa Bay 5-1 the night before. "We played an absolute gritty, fantastic game,'' Maurice said after his team twice rallied from a goal down in the third. "... You're here to win every game, but we played a man's game tonight. We played a hard game. Everybody got off the bench, involved, our best players were our best players, and I'm really proud of that effort tonight.'' Captain Eric Staal, who scored a pair of power-play goals and added an assist Saturday, looks to be in mid-season form. So does reigning Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner, who has a team-best four points following his first career three-assist game. Staal had three assists in four games against the Devils last season, while Skinner had a pair of two-goal games. They'll face Devils backup Johan Hedberg on Monday even though Martin Brodeur made 26 saves Saturday while helping New Jersey kill all eight penalties. Hedberg, who made his first start last season in the Devils' eighth game, went 3-0-0 with a 1.64 goals-against average in three starts against Carolina in 2010-11. Cam Ward, meanwhile, yielded at least three goals in all four starts versus New Jersey last season, and is 1-5-1 with a 2.87 GAA in his last seven starts against the Devils. Brian Boucher, who stopped 32 of 36 shots Saturday in his Hurricanes debut, posted a 1.99 GAA in five starts against the Devils last season while with the Flyers. New Jersey has won five in a row at home over Carolina and seven of nine overall in this matchup.
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