ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Devils failed to pull off a power play late in the second quarter Tuesday night at PNC Arena in Raleigh against Carolina. To make matters worse, they surrendered a short-handed goal in the game to trail 3-1.
With 2 minutes left in the middle, Jordan Martinuk of the Hurricanes made a breakthrough in the penalty area, and the two sides continued to play 5 against 5.
Using a bunch of players in that power game, the Devils needed to freeze three random resting forwards. A happy accident ensues.
There’s just over a minute left, Jesper Berquist, michael mcleod and Dawson Mercer Jump over the planks. Just 10 seconds later, Mercer retrieved the puck just below the goal line, drove it into the goal area, and hit the rebound through goalie Pyotr Kochetkov’s five.
Devils head coach Lindy Love kept the trio on the ice for the ensuing showdown. Just 18 seconds later, Boqvist caught a low pass in the attack zone, sliced uncontested into the net, and slid the rubber past Kochetkov’s five again.
Suddenly, a 3-1 game was all tied 3-3.
VIDEO: Instant Chemistry | The Devil Now
“They got one, we left them there, and they got another pretty quickly,” Raff said. “It’s kind of hard not to keep them together.”
They came together in the third quarter and scored the third goal — Mercer’s second of the game — to seal a 5-3 comeback victory.
“All three of us like to use our speed and play fast, and all of us have this work ethic, and we don’t mind putting the puck in the corner and getting it ourselves,” Mercer said. “At the same time, we played and took advantage of our opportunities. It was a success in that game.”
A trio combined for seven points and contributed to the team’s three goals in the win: Mercer (2g-1a), Boqvist (1g-1a), McLeod (2a).
So a happy accident led to Devils’ latest line mix.
“I think they’ve done a good job of getting the puck to the net,” Love said. “If you look at two of those goals, even Mercer’s last goal, it’s going over the crease and going to the hard area to get the ball out.”
The most unique thing about Boqvist, McLeod and Mercer is that all three are professional centers. Although when face to face, they know who will line up on point.
“Mikey can draw lots,” Mercer said. “He’s really good at confronting and getting us the ball right away.”
It seemed like a prudent decision, as McLeod leads the team in duel win percentage at 56.8 percent.
If McLeod is thrown out of the circle, the Devils have two options to draw the lottery. Another asset is having three guys who understand the center’s primary defensive role.
“Everyone takes responsibility for the defense so it works,” McLeod said. “We support each other across the ice.”
Not surprisingly, they skated together during Thursday’s crossover and are expected to play with the Ducks on Friday night.
“Trying to build on the last game and keep that energy going,” McLeod said of their team.
The trio has all the makings of a good line. Their defense is solid, they’re not afraid to get to the net, and they have the ability to finish the game.
“A line is dangerous when they can read each other, and if they compliment each other with speed and skill, someone goes online,” Raff said. “Sometimes you just find that chemistry.
“We’ve been on and off with different groups. Maybe this thread can light a little fire for us.”