If the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils are to be taken seriously in the East playoff races, they need to win games like these … or get into overtime, at minimum.
The Hurricanes were the only team who succeeded on Tuesday, grinding out a 3-1 win against the Devils.
To an extent, it was a “One team has to win” situation. The Hurricanes broke a three-game losing streak and won for the second time in six games; the Devils dropped their third straight and only hold one win in seven contests.
It’s not as if either team was loading up at the trade deadline, but they’re not so far from the mix that you can dismiss their chances altogether.
The Devils may be in particular trouble, however, with a brutal stretch of tough opponents and road dates (five of six away from New Jersey) coming up.
If Ray Shero & Co. haven’t already written off the season, they may really rue these lost points.
On another note, Derek Ryan made waves by scoring his first NHL goal in his first game … at age 29.