Mercer scores 2, Devils use 2nd period rally to top Canes

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Dawson Mercer scored two goals to help the New Jersey Devils overcome allowing two short-handed goals in a 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

Mercer gave the Devils their first lead of the game at 8:53 of the third period on his 10th goal of the season. It’s the first multi-goal game of his 123-game NHL career.

The Devils began a five-game road trip by winning for the third time in four games. They closed the gap on the first-place Hurricanes in a game marking the midway mark of the season for the top two teams in the Metropolitan Division.

Jonas Siegenthaler, Jesper Boqvist and Nico Hischier also scored for New Jersey, with Hischier’s empty-netter coming with 55 seconds left. Michael McLeod had two assists.

Goalie Vitek Vanecek made 25 saves for his fourth win in a row.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Max Pacioretty and Sebastian Aho scored for the Hurricanes, who lost their fourth straight game and surrendered a two-goal lead in the last minute of the second period. Pyotr Kochetkov made 17 saves.

Mercer’s first goal came with 52 seconds left in the second period when he got the puck past Kochetkov despite the presence of three other Carolina players in the area. Boqvist’s fourth goal of the season came 18 seconds later.

Pacioretty’s third goal in three games since joining the lineup came when he pursued the puck behind the net and knocked the puck off Devils center Yegor Sharangovich at 8:50 of the second period.

Aho’s 13th goal later in the period gave Carolina two shorthanded tallies.

Kotkaniemi’s seventh goal of the season began the scoring with the first shorthanded goal of his career. Teammate Martin Necas did a bulk of the work, winning a faceoff and collecting the puck to deliver a pass to Kotkaniemi.

Siegenthaler’s second goal of the season came on a shot from the left side, with the puck slipping between the post and Kochetkov’s pad.

Kochetkov was trying to notch his first win since Dec. 16, though it was just his third appearance since then because he missed time with an injury.

ICE MATTERS

New Jersey is 8-1-1 when its outshot this season. … The Devils improved to 1-1-1 in three meetings with Carolina. The teams meet for the final time March 12 in New Jersey.

UP NEXT

Devils: At Anaheim on Friday.

Hurricanes: At Columbus on Thursday.

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Bob Sutton, The Associated Press