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Cammalleri’s hat trick lifts Devils past ’Canes, 4-1

November 7, 2016 GMT

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Devils have been waiting for this. So has Mike Cammalleri.

Maybe not his sixth career hat trick, but certainly some goals.

The veteran’s production is a vital part of the team’s offensive success. So Cammalleri finally scoring his first three goals of the season can only be seen as a really good sign for the Devils.

And it powered the Devils to a 4-1 win over the Hurricanes on Sunday night at PNC Arena as they concluded a three-game trip with their first road victory in their first Metropolitan Division game of the season.

The teams play again Tuesday night at Prudential Center.

The Devils (5-3-3), now 1-3-2 on the road, got 33 saves from Keith Kinkaid as the backup started on the second night of back-to-back games.

Eddie Lack stopped 17 shots for the Hurricanes (3-5-3).

Cammalleri completed his first hat trick since Feb. 13, 2013 for the Flames in a 7-4 win over the Stars by beating Lack over his glove from the left circle at 8:30 of the third period. After missing the second half of last season, it may have just taken Cammalleri a little bit longer to regain his touch.

“It’s tough to say,” Cammalleri had said earlier in the week. “It was a long layoff. I don’t want to use that as a reason but, yeah, maybe there’s subtleties that I don’t see or feel that way.”

The Devils were coming off Saturday night’s 4-1 loss at Tampa Bay in which they mustered a strong first period and then not much else. In response, coach John Hynes again tinkered with his lines and, this time, his lineup, inserting forwards Jacob Josefson and Reid Boucher and sitting Devante Smith-Pelly and Sergey Kalinin.

The Hurricanes, too, played on Saturday night, notching a 3-2 shootout win at Nashville.

And it wasn’t like the Hurricanes were sluggish on a back-to-back, outshooting the Devils, 14-2, in the second period.

But Cammalleri scored on both those shots.

Cammalleri, 34, was an offensive force for the Devils last season, scoring 14 goals with 24 assists in 42 games before a hand injury ended his season.

Hynes has moved him from line to line, and from left wing to right wing, trying to re-ignite what Cammalleri previously brought to the attack.

But he came into Sunday’s game with just three assists in 10 games and his lack of production was seemingly starting to affect the other parts of his game as well.

Against the Hurricanes, Cammalleri started the game on Jacob Josefson’s right wing along with Beau Bennett.

But it was top-line center Travis Zajac who set up Cammalleri’s first goal, making a nice stop-and-start move to create space for himself on the left before finding Cammalleri open in the right circle to beat a sprawling Lack at 4:31.

Cammalleri then gave the Devils a 2-0 lead at 7:56 off the rush, beating Lack again from the right circle. Hurricanes coach Bill Peters challenged that the Devils were offside but a video review upheld the goal.

Andrej Nestrasil, banging in a loose puck at the left post, spoiled Kinkaid’s bid for his third career shutout to bring the Hurricanes within 3-1 at 13:01 of the third period. Still, Kinkaid improved to 4-1-0 lifetime against the Hurricanes.

And he was able to build off his first start, when he made 26 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss to the visiting Blackhawks on Oct. 28. That start came on the first night of back-to-back games.

And with two more sets of back-to-back games this month, plus three in December along with a grueling schedule that has the Devils playing 19 of 29 games on the road in the two months, Kinkaid is likely to see more regular work.

Captain Andy Greene completed the scoring with an empty-net short-handed goal with 54.4 seconds to go.

Email: grossa@northjersey.com