The Florida Panthers came into Newark with a flu bug going through the locker room and a loss to the Devils about one week ago. In that loss, the Panthers’ Jaromir Jagr said that the better team lost. Today was very much the opposite.
All they did was blow out the home team 5 to 1.
The Devils were, of course, coming off of their win in Buffalo while the Panthers had just defeated the Isles 5-1 in Brooklyn. They were in for a repeat performance. In a 5-1 rout of the Devils, the Panthers did all of the little things right while the Devils made some big mistakes.
The Devils began the day with a little housecleaning. Brian O’Neill was put on waivers and, when he cleared, “loaned” to the Albany Devils of the AHL. Joseph Blandisi was also sent back to Albany. Healthy scratches for the Devils were Eric Gelinas and Stefan Matteau.
Starting in goal for the Devils was Cory Schneider again. The Devils’ workhorse made 21 saves on 25 shots. Facing him was not his Vancouver teammate, Roberto Luongo, but rather backup Al Montoya. Montoya made 15 saves on 16 shots faced in getting the win for the Cats.
The first period was the inverse of the team’s last meeting: Florida scored twice in the opening stanza, putting the Devils behind the eight ball early.
The Devils took two consecutive penalties when Tyler Kennedy went off for hooking at 6:36. They killed that off, but then at 8:41, Lee Stempniak was called for tripping Vincent Trocheck. It was on this power play that the Panthers’ Jussi Jokinen scored his seventh of the year. Brandon Pirri and Trocheck had the assists. That goal came at 9:32 of the first.
Florida doubled their lead at 12:00 when Dmitry Kulikov got his first of the season from Jagr and Brian Campbell.
The only goal of the second period came when Brandon Pirri scored at 2:42. It was the second of three points on the night for Pirri, who would be named the game’s first star. Corban Knight, Jokinen, Trocheck and Logan Shaw also had multi point nights for the Panthers.
In the third, things got uglier when Reilly Smith made things 4-0.
The Devils finally broke through on the power play when Florida’s Dylan Olsen was whistled for interference at 12:11. On that power play, Jacob Josefson and David Schlemko worked it around the perimeter to Kyle Palmieri, who fired a slap shot from the top of the left faceoff circle. Sergey Kalinin tipped it in to cut the lead to 4-1.
The Devils then elected to pull Schneider with a little more than five minutes left in the game and Logan Shaw iced it for the Panthers when he scored in the empty net, putting it at 5-1 and out of reach for New Jersey.
The game was as bad as it sounded from the Devils point of view. John MacLean pointed out during the broadcast that the team was not winning the little puck battles and not keeping possession of the puck. Florida just flat outplayed them.
The Devils will welcome the Anaheim Ducks in on Saturday. Kyle Palmieri’s old team has been struggling so far this sesaon and the Devils will play a back-to-back the next day (it’s a 5 PM start) in Boston, so they will look to try to take advantage. They also need the wins to stay in playoff contention. The loss to Florida is a tough one, since the two teams are neck and neck in the second wildcard spot.
The team has been pretty consistent so far, not getting into too many slumps. They will need to stop the bleeding quickly if they do not want that trend to start now.