The Devils went to RBC Center tonight with a chance to eliminate the Carolina Hurricanes and move on to the second round of the NHL playoffs.
Now, they will be facing elimination themselves when they host the Hurricanes in a deciding Game 7 on Tuesday night.
The Devils knew they wasted an opportunity in tonight's 4-0 loss in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at RBC Center.
They were thoroughly outplayed by a desperate Hurricanes team and demonstrated no sense of urgency themselves.
"I guess the difference of tonight was [one] team played like there was no tomorrow and the other team played like there was," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "And when that happens, usually the team that plays like there is another game tomorrow ends up on the wrong side and we certainly did in a lot of aspects tonight."
The Devils talked for the last three days about not playing as if they had a Game 7 to fall back on, but it appeared as if they knew that if they lost they had another chance on Tuesday.
"It kind of feels that way," Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. "They played like a desperate team and we didn't. That's what happens this time of year. The team that wants it more usually wins and they wanted it tonight."
The Devils hope this wasted opportunity doesn't come back to haunt them on Tuesday.
"It's disappointing," left wing Jay Pandolfo said. "They obviously showed they were the more desperate team.and really took it to us. We can't let that happen next game. That's for sure."
Although the final shots on goal were not that lopsided -- 37-28 in favor of Carolina -- that was misleading. The shots were 23-6 Carolina after Eric Staal scored on s 2-on-1 to make it 3-0 7;30 into the second period. Staal had scored 2:46 earlier to make it 2-0.
"The shots that we got at the end, that's a team that was up 4-0," Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "It's different than if the game would have been 1-1. So, it's hard to count that. When it counted, we weren't competing against them. They really outplayed us. We can't sugarcoat it too much. It's not something that we can say we played well, but we lost on a bad bounce. They outplayed us today.
"We have no choice now but to be desperate in a Game 7 and definitely have a better effort of controlling the hockey game."
If the Devils are looking for positive, there are two.
One is that no team has won consecutive games in this seasons. The other is that they get to play Game 7 on home ice.
"That's why you play the whole year is to get that home-ice advantage and that's why you do it, for a Game 7," Sutter said. "Yet, you've got to go out and do it now. We've got 48 hours to get ready to play Now, both teams are in the same boat.and in the same situation and you've got to expect it's going to be a great game, Game 7. There's reasons why you want home-ice advantage and we have it and yet you have to take advantage of it, too."