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After a pair of tough division losses, the New Jersey Devils got back on track in the start of a three-game trip through the Southeast. Their second stop features an opponent that goaltender Martin Brodeur usually defeats.
The Devils look to pick up a second straight victory Saturday night as Brodeur looks to maintain his mastery of the Florida Panthers, who are playing their BankAtlantic Center opener.
New Jersey (1-2-0) lost its first two games, with Brodeur posting a 3.05 goals-against average in those contests. He bounced back to make 41 saves as the Devils won 4-3 in a shootout at Tampa Bay on Thursday.
"He's a big reason we were still in the game," center Travis Zajac said of Brodeur. "I think anytime you give up that many shots, it's going to be tough. He made a lot of great saves and kept us in the game."
Brodeur is 32-12-7 lifetime against Florida (1-2-0), and his 1.98 GAA versus the Panthers is his lowest against any Eastern Conference opponent.
While Brodeur was outstanding, Zajac was the hero with a tying goal with one second left in regulation.
"It really bounced and a couple of guys tried to take a whack at it, but somehow it came to me," Zajac said.
The Devils also got regulation goals from Zach Parise and Jay Pandolfo to become the last team in the East to earn a point.
New Jersey's top line of Parise, Zajac and Jamie Langenbrunner has already combined for four goals and four assists.
"These guys have the potential to get these big goals," coach Jacques Lemaire told the Devils' official Web site.
The Devils won three of four meetings with the Panthers last season as Parise had two goals and two assists and Patrik Elias added one goal and three assists.
Florida is playing its first game at home after splitting two games with Chicago in Finland and losing 7-2 at Carolina on Friday. The Panthers fell behind 3-0 after the first period, when they were outshot 16-5 by the Hurricanes.
"Hats off to Carolina, they played a great first period, and the game was over in the first 20 minutes," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said.
Shawn Mattias and Michael Frolik scored for Florida, which turned in a sloppy effort.
"Really frustrating," DeBoer said. "We knew coming into the game that if we turned the puck over against this team, they were going to make you pay a price for it. ... We got what we deserved."
The Panthers went 22-12-7 at home last season.