Defensemen help Devils dominate Panthers

Alain Poupart  - NHL.com Correspondent | Saturday, 10.11.2014 / 11:29 PM

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The goals keep coming for the New Jersey Devils, and they're taking advantage of them to get off to the kind of start they desperately wanted.

Defenseman Damon Severson had a goal and an assist in his second NHL game, helping the Devils build a four-goal, first-period lead in a 5-1 victory against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center on Saturday.

The Devils, who opened with a 6-4 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, have surpassed their victory total for their first 10 games of last season (1-5-4).

"It's important for this group," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said of a fast start. "It really killed us last year and we knew that. We also have to make sure we understand that a start isn't an entire season either. It's early, but I wouldn't trade the start or the feeling right now with the group."

Defenseman Eric Gelinas had a goal and an assist for the Devils; Martin Havlat, Mike Cammalleri and Ryane Clowe each had a goal. Devils defensemen combined for two goals and four assists in the first period.

With 11 goals, the Devils matched their highest two-game total to start a season (1991-92).

"We're playing with confidence," goalie Cory Schneider said. "We're playing with skill and speed. We're getting some good bounces, but I think it's because we're doing the right things and playing the right way. That's a result of that. Obviously it's pretty much not sustainable, but we're enjoying it while we can."

Saturday was the fourth time Schneider faced former Vancouver Canucks teammate Roberto Luongo in goal, but the first time Schneider came away with a win.

Luongo was pulled after giving up Clowe's goal at 2:54 of the second period. Luongo allowed five goals on 14 shots. Schneider, who was primarily Luongo's backup before he was traded to the Devils on June 30, 2013, made 28 saves.

"The first few were a couple of bad bounces off a shin pad and off our guy's shaft and redirections and in," Luongo said. "It was a tough start but no excuses. Have to keep the team in the game there and make a couple saves and I didn't do that. It's a disappointing effort on my part and [I] want to bounce back for Monday (against the Ottawa Senators)."

Derek MacKenzie scored a power-play goal for the Panthers, who had a four-game winning streak in home openers.

The four-goal margin matched the worst home-opening loss in Panthers history. Florida lost 4-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 3, 2009, although that game was part of a home-and-home set in Finland. The Panthers' previous most lopsided loss at BB&T Center in a home opener also came against the Devils, 4-1 on Oct. 6, 2007.

"We had a bad start to the hockey game," Florida coach Gerard Gallant said. "It's tough to battle back against a team like New Jersey. It's disappointing. Some of their goals [Roberto is] in the net and there's too many guys in front of him. If you don't see shots you're not going to stop pucks. We didn't compete hard enough to win."

DeBoer is 7-3-1 against the Panthers, who he coached for three seasons before being fired after the 2010-11 season.

All of New Jersey's goals in the first period came off long shots, starting with Gelinas' goal 2:37 into the game. Gelinas, who scored his first NHL goal against Luongo on Oct. 24, 2013, took a low wrist shot from the left point that went through traffic and found its way to the far side.

Havlat and Cammalleri followed with power-play goals at 8:46 and 13:13, Havlat deflecting Gelinas' shot from the right point and Cammalleri deflecting Marek Zidlicky's one-timer from the top of the left circle.

Severson had the second assist on Cammalleri's goal, his first NHL point. A second-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft who made his debut against Philadelphia on Thursday, Severson scored his first NHL goal with 27.8 seconds left in the first period when his harmless-looking wrist shot from the right point beat Luongo to the short side with Jaromir Jagr skating in front of him.

"Anytime you can get a shot off on the net and you get a rebound maybe or get a tip or something like that, that's what I was looking for, honestly," Severson said. "I just knew there was traffic in front, I just tried to get the puck to the net and it ended up going in for me. So I was very happy."

DeBoer said, "He was trying not to smile coming back to the bench. It was pretty funny actually. He was trying as hard as possible not to crack one, but I think we caught him. But good for him. It was great."

New Jersey took a 3-0 lead against Philadelphia but the Flyers tied the game before the Devils pulled away in the third period. This time, they maintained a comfortable margin throughout.

"Once we got up four, it was definitely a little bit of a sigh of relief, but still the game is not over," Severson said. "We came into the room between the second and third (periods) and realized that we had to buckle down and shut things down for the third period."

Clowe made it 5-0 when he redirected Michael Ryder's backhand pass to the front of the net, which brought in backup goalie Al Montoya for his first action with the Panthers. Montoya, who was one of six free agents signed by Florida on July 1, stopped all 10 shots he faced.

MacKenzie scored when he redirected Scottie Upshall's pass from the side of the net at 16:31 of the second period.

There was no scoring in the third period despite Florida having four power-play opportunities. Florida ended up 1-for-8 with the man-advantage; New Jersey was 2-for-5.

"That's as good a road game as we could have," DeBoer said. "We came in here, we knew this was their home opener and that they were going to come out ready to play. I liked our start. I liked the fact that I thought we really controlled the neutral zone for the first period and turned their mistakes into offense, which is what we have to do.

"I'm glad for the guys. We worked hard through camp and talked right from Day One about trying to get off to a good start here. I like the fact we were better tonight than we were the other night in Philadelphia."

Scoring Summary
1st Period
02:37NJD Tuomo Ruutu (1) ASST: Eric Gelinas (1), Jon Merrill (1) 1 - 0 NJD
08:46NJD PPG - Martin Havlat (1) ASST: Eric Gelinas (2), Patrik Elias (1) 2 - 0 NJD
13:13NJD PPG - Michael Cammalleri (3) ASST: Marek Zidlicky (3), Damon Severson (1) 3 - 0 NJD
19:32NJD Damon Severson (1) ASST: NONE 4 - 0 NJD
2nd Period
02:59NJD Ryane Clowe (1) ASST: Michael Ryder (3), Adam Henrique (2) 5 - 0 NJD
16:31FLA PPG - Derek MacKenzie (1) ASST: Scottie Upshall (1), Brian Campbell (2) 5 - 1 NJD
3rd Period
Three Stars of the Game
Eric Gelinas
Eric Gelinas
G: 0Shots: 2
A: 2Hits: 2
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 14:59
Damon Severson
Damon Severson
G: 1Shots: 3
A: 1Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 2TOI: 18:55
Derek MacKenzie
Derek MacKenzie
G: 1Shots: 1
A: 0Hits: 5
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: -2TOI: 15:36
Penalty Summary
1st Period
07:36FLA Nick Bjugstad  Delay of game - bench
12:13FLA Jonathan Huberdeau  Interference on goalkeeper against  Cory Schneider
15:40NJD Jordin Tootoo  Interference against  Derek MacKenzie
19:40FLA Shawn Thornton  Fighting (maj) against  Bryce Salvador
19:40NJD Bryce Salvador  Fighting (maj) against  Shawn Thornton
20:00NJD Tuomo Ruutu  Roughing against  Dylan Olsen
2nd Period
05:02FLA Tomas Fleischmann  Hooking against  Jon Merrill
11:27NJD Jordin Tootoo  Hi-sticking against  Brad Boyes
13:10FLA Jonathan Huberdeau  Too many men/ice - bench
15:24NJD Tuomo Ruutu  Tripping against  Erik Gudbranson
19:17NJD Stephen Gionta  Hi-sticking against  Scottie Upshall
3rd Period
01:44NJD Michael Cammalleri  Delaying Game-Puck over glass
03:22NJD Jon Merrill  Boarding against  Dave Bolland
08:28NJD Martin Havlat  Delaying Game-Puck over glass
15:33FLA Jonathan Huberdeau  Roughing against  Travis Zajac
15:33NJD Travis Zajac  Roughing against  Jonathan Huberdeau
16:34FLA Aaron Ekblad  Interference against  Eric Gelinas
shots by period
Team Stats
Power Plays2/51/8
Faceoff Wins2527
Blocked Shots105
Penalty Minutes2317
2M. ZidlickyD0101018:53
6A. GreeneD0023024:24
7J. MerrillD0110222:12
8D. ZubrusC0000017:09
9M. HavlatR1002210:44
11S. GiontaC0010213:53
14A. HenriqueC0111017:36
15T. RuutuL101149:05
17M. RyderR0111010:55
19T. ZajacC0011216:35
20J. TootooR001248:35
22E. GelinasD0212014:59
23M. CammalleriL1013217:23
24B. SalvadorD0000519:54
26P. EliasC0100016:12
28D. SeversonD1123018:55
29R. CloweL1012012:33
68J. JagrR0012012:56
35C. Schneider2829.96660:00
4D. OlsenD0001011:52
5A. EkbladD00-21222:48
7D. KulikovD00-13024:09
11J. HuberdeauL00-11417:01
14T. FleischmannL0004211:00
16A. BarkovC00-13017:16
17D. MacKenzieC10-21015:36
19S. UpshallR0102016:13
20S. BergenheimL0000010:37
22S. ThorntonL00-1457:39
24B. BoyesR00-12014:59
27N. BjugstadC0000014:14
33W. MitchellD00-10017:40
36J. JokinenL00-11017:31
44E. GudbransonD0003017:26
51B. CampbellD01-21026:06
63D. BollandC0001017:00
82T. KopeckyR00-21010:55
1R. Luongo914.64322:47
35A. Montoya10101.00037:01