NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Nico Hischier has been a little less unselfish lately, and that could be a very good thing for the New Jersey Devils in their bid to end a five-year playoff drought.
Hischier had a goal and two assists, and Stefan Noesen scored twice to lead the Devils to a 5-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night in a game between the two teams currently in wild-card playoff positions in the Eastern Conference.
It marked only the second time this season that the No. 1 overall pick in the draft has scored goals in consecutive games. It could not have come at a better time for New Jersey, which has now won two in a row after losing four straight.
“I think when you’re shooting, it’s never a wrong decision,” said Hischier, who now has 11 goals. “I still have to learn that. The last two games I took the shot and they went in. I think earlier in the season I had a couple of chances but I didn’t shoot. It’s a learning process for sure and it just feels good.”
Kyle Palmieri and Damon Severson also scored for the Devils.
Keith Kinkaid, who made 27 saves for the Devils, said Hischier is very mature for a 19-year-old.
“He’s the first one to take blame whenever something bad happens, even if it’s not his fault,” Kinkaid said. “I think he’s a tremendous person all around and with his offensive ability. It’s great seeing him out there shoot the puck. He’s got a wicked shot.”
Hischier had the primary assist on Palmieri’s go-ahead goal late in the second period and helped blow the game open in the third, combining with Noesen to score goals in a 32-second span.
“It’s always better if you win,” Hischier said. “You can feel it in the locker room before the games and after the games. It’s a better mood and it gives us confidence for sure, but we know we’re a good team and we can battle against each team in this league. We just have to play our game.”
Jeff Skinner and defenseman Brett Pesce scored for Carolina, which was on the road after going 5-2-1 in a season-high eight-game homestand. Scott Darling had 17 saves for the Hurricanes, who will play New Jersey at home on Sunday.
Palmieri snapped a 2-all tie with 2:32 left in the second period with an uncontested shot in close. Hischier sent the puck into the crease from behind the net and Darling poked it right to Palmieri for his 14th goal. Carolina accused Hischier of goaltender interference for being in the crease but the goal stood a review.
Hischier got his goal on an odd-man rush with a shot from the right circle. Noesen scored his second with a bouncing deflection of a Severson shot.
“We didn’t manage certain situations very well,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. “The Hischier 2-on-1, we didn’t have a forward covering there. We made the game harder than it needed to be. We have to clean that up.”
Pesce had tied the game 2-all at 7:43 of the second period with a shot from low in the right circle after patiently waiting for a lane to open. His third goal of the season came less than a minute after Noesen poked the rebound of Travis Zajac’s shot into an open net for a 2-1 New Jersey advantage.
Skinner had given Carolina the lead with 2:38 left in the first period, poking a puck into the corner of the net for his fourth goal in three games. The goal originally was waved off by referee Tim Peel because he thought the puck was kicked in. A review showed Skinner redirected the puck with his skate into the post and then used his stick to score his 19th goal.
Severson tied the game with 19 seconds left in the period, beat Darling with a slap shot from the right dot shortly after a New Jersey penalty expired.
NOTES: Devils LW Taylor Hall stretched his personal point-scoring streak to 16 games with an assist on Hischier’s goal. … New Jersey is now 21-0-2 when leading after two periods. … Zajac played in his 819th game with the Devils, tying him with Jay Pandolfo for sixth most among skaters in team history. … Skinner now has 199 career goals and moved past Jeff O’Neill for fifth place on Carolina’s all-time goals list. … Devils C Brian Boyle missed his second straight game with a shoulder injury. … Palmieri played in his 200th game for the Devils. … The win was 29th for New Jersey, exceeding its total of last season.
Carolina: Host the N.Y. Islanders on Friday night.
New Jersey: At Tampa Bay on Saturday night.
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