The New Jersey Devils dropped their second straight game on Saturday after falling to the Florida Panthers by a score of 3-1. The Devils were haunted by sloppy defense, takeaways, and penalties; whereas the Panthers were aggressive on offense and solid on defense, leading them to victory.
The Devils looked strong out of the gate and energized. The Devils applied pressure early and kept the Panthers in the defensive zone. Steve Bernier notched his first goal as a Devil 1:39 into the first period, sending the Devils out to a 1-0 lead. Later in the period, Sean Bergenheim scored his eleventh goal of the season–a power play goal–to tie the game at one a piece. The Devils looked sloppy at the end of the period and looked to turn the game around in the second.
Locked in a 1-1 tie, both teams looked to break the tie early in the second period as both New Jersey and Florida had several scoring chances. Kris Versteeg scored his 21st goal of the season 7:43 into the period to put Florida up by a score of 2-1. Martin Brodeur, however, denied the Panthers on several other scoring opportunities and continued to look sharp. New Jersey’s best scoring chance of the period was nullified by an obvious defensive holding penalty which was not called. Unfortunately, New Jersey could not get anything started offensively and trailed by a score of 2-1 going into the third period.
The Devils played arguably their worst third period of the season against the Panthers on Saturday. Several of New Jersey’s long-ice-passes were intercepted and led to scoring opportunities for the Panthers. Brodeur kept the Devils in the game; however, New Jersey was unable to capitalize on their only power play of the day. The Devils did not apply a lot of pressure in the third period. Time and time again, the Devils dumped the puck into the Florida zone and changed lines rather than shooting the puck. Mikael Samuelsson added an empty net goal with 25 seconds to play to give Florida a 3-1 lead, which would stand as the final score.
The Devils are back in action on Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres. New Jersey looks to jump back into the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference after falling one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. A look at the current playoff picture:
1 – Rangers* (75)
2 - Bruins* (70)
3 – Panthers* (63)
4 – Flyers (69)
5 – Penguins (67)
6 – Devils (66)
7 - Senators (64)
8 – Maple Leafs (62)