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Panthers-Devils Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:48 AM

Associated Press

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Panthers-Devils Preview
Florida Panthers vs. New Jersey Devils

Martin Brodeur has the New Jersey Devils back in the win column.

The NHL-worst Florida Panthers have a chance to be there in three straight games for the first time all season.

Brodeur could be in net for a second straight contest Saturday night in New Jersey, where the Devils and Panthers meet for the first time since last season's first-round playoff matchup.

Out since Feb. 21 with a pinched nerve in his upper back and neck, Brodeur made 17 saves and scored his third career goal off an errant pass from Carolina's Jordan Staal in Thursday's 4-1 victory. The Devils (14-11-6) had dropped three in a row overall and six straight on the road.

"You know him coming back, he's going to give you a boost," center Travis Zajac said. "But he was just awesome today."

The Panthers don't need to be reminded. Brodeur is 15-5-0 with a 1.90 goals-against average and three shutouts in his last 20 regular-season home starts against them.

The NHL's all-time winningest goaltender started each game during the 2012 Eastern Conference playoffs versus Florida, stopping 57 of 61 shots in Game 6 and 7 victories - both went past regulation - to give New Jersey its first playoff series win since 2007.

In the Panthers' previous playoff appearance in 2000, Brodeur stopped 98 of 104 shots in the Devils' first-round sweep.

Florida (9-16-6) still has some playoff life this season, but with a league-low 24 points, it will need a strong push over the final five weeks if it's going to make the postseason a year after winning its first Southeast Division title.

The Panthers are heading in the right direction, defeating the Hurricanes and the New York Rangers to open their season-high five-game trip.

"That's seven or eight solid periods in a row for us," coach Kevin Dineen said after Thursday's 3-1 victory over the Rangers. "That's what we're looking for."

The Panthers have won consecutive road games for the first time since a four-game stretch that started with a 3-1 victory over the Devils on Feb. 11, 2012 - their last regular-season game at New Jersey.

Florida last won three straight overall during a five-game run March 11-20, 2012.

Jacob Markstrom has lost both times he's faced the Devils, but there's a good chance he'll make a third consecutive start for the Panthers. Markstrom has stopped 77 of 79 shots on the trip after coming within 3:48 of his first NHL shutout Thursday.

"I felt really good from the start to the finish," Markstrom said after making a career-high 44 saves.

If that continues, the Panthers' league-worst penalty kill (74.2 percent) has a good chance of improving. It already has, failing just once in seven short-handed chances in the last two games.

New Jersey is 4 for 10 with the man advantage in its last three.

Forward Matt D'Agostini could make his Devils debut after being acquired from St. Louis on Friday for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2015. He has two points in 16 games after beginning the season in Germany.

These clubs split four regular-season matchups in 2011-12, with each winning once on the road.

2012-2013 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 20 '13 FLA 2 at NJD 6 D. Clarkson
Mar 30 '13 NJD 2 at FLA 3 - OT D. Kulikov
Mar 23 '13 FLA 1 at NJD 2 D. Clarkson
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
J. Huberdeau3212820-71211
T. Kopecky3212820-82630
T. Fleischmann3261420-121411
B. Campbell3271219-181262
P. Mueller327613-51210
S. Matthias329312+2611
M. Goc264711-9621
J. Skille303811+0600
D. Shore302911-41210
M. Weaver19167-3600
D. Kulikov21077-41200
F. Kuba30156-111400
J. Smithson30235-3800
A. Kovalev14235-1611
K. Versteeg10224-8800
S. Weiss17134-132510
E. Gudbranson22044-171200
M. Santorelli19213-6200
T. Brennan14213+0610
S. Upshall11202-31911
G. Parros27112-93400
T. Strachan27022-22900
C. Robak13011-11500
E. Jovanovski6011-4000
K. Ellerby9000-23600
N. Yonkman7000-11100
J. Rheault5000+0000
Q. Howden3000-3000
M. Caruso2000-1000
E. Selleck1000+01700
S. Timmins1000+0200
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
J. Theodore154-6-3423913.29.893
J. Markstrom93-5-1222622.72.916
S. Clemmensen142-6-2453253.96.862
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
P. Elias32101929+81630
I. Kovalchuk32101727-21624
D. Clarkson3212820-14954
A. Henrique2710414+01032
T. Zajac325813+01011
M. Zidlicky3231013-72810
S. Gionta323710+2800
R. Carter283710-31900
A. Greene322810+61811
S. Bernier32639-61711
A. Loktionov15538+0410
A. Ponikarovsky29347-11001
A. Larsson26055+71200
M. Fayne20055-11200
A. Volchenkov28134+42200
D. Zubrus9134-1800
P. Harrold10213-5210
S. Matteau17123-1600
H. Tallinder14123+1800
M. D'Agostini17112-4200
B. Butler14112-6010
B. Salvador31022-52000
J. Josefson16011-10200
M. Tedenby4011+0200
M. Anderson2011+1000
K. Barch22000+14400
T. Kostopoulos9000-1600
C. Janssen4000-1200
T. Sestito3000+0200
H. Pesonen3000+0200
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
M. Brodeur1510-2-3323742.10.914
J. Hedberg175-9-3453962.73.886
K. Kinkaid10-0-01132.31.923
J. Frazee10-0-0030.001.000