Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Plunging Devils in Dire Shape

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Plunging Devils in Dire Shape

Article excerpt

NEWARK -- With each day, the Devils are making it more difficult to believe they can still make the playoffs.

Their sagging postseason hopes took another hit Tuesday night with a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at Prudential Center.

Joakim Nordstrom fired an Elias Lindholm rebound past goaltender Cory Schneider with 1:29 left in regulation to snap a 1-1 tie. Nathan Gerbe clinched it for the Hurricanes with his empty-net goal with 21.2 seconds remaining.

The loss is the Devils' third straight and sixth in their last seven games. The Hurricanes snapped a three-game losing streak and climbed one point ahead of the Devils in the Eastern Conference standings.

Both teams were playing their first game following Monday's trade deadline and dealing with the reality of losing a key player. The Hurricanes traded away their captain, Eric Staal, to the Rangers on Sunday.

The Devils sent their leading scorer, Lee Stempniak, to Boston for two draft picks (2016 fourth-round pick and 2017 second-round pick). They also moved defenseman Eric Gelinas to Colorado for a 2017 third-round pick, and left wing Stefan Matteau to Montreal for right wing Devante Smith-Pelly.

Neither of the two players the Devils added were in their lineup against the Hurricanes. They wanted to give defenseman David Warsofsky a chance and monitor the team's play after claiming him off waivers from Pittsburgh.

Smith-Pelly was still recovering Tuesday after flying overnight Monday from San Jose, Calif., to Newark. That was where Smith- Pelly, 23, was with the Canadiens at the time of the trade.

Smith-Pelly stopped by Prudential Center on Tuesday morning to drop off his equipment before heading to get some sleep.

"I haven't really talked to anyone about plans, but I'm just looking forward to coming in and helping the group and fitting in," he said during the first intermission. …

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