Panthers come out firing, finally break through in 3-2 win over New Jersey

Matthew DeFranks, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Hockey

NEWARK, N.J. -- After the embarrassment of another home-ice blowout and the ghost of an abysmal period, after a postgame shooting session and after two days had cooled the sting of a loss to Chicago, the Florida Panthers were given the opportunity to prove Saturday a fluke.

In a 3-2 win over the Devils on Monday night at the Prudential Center, Florida erased the memory of the prior 48 hours in dominating New Jersey. The Panthers controlled play through much of the first two periods, outshooting the Devils 16-3 in the first, then 15-7 in the second.

The win inched the Panthers (9-12-2, 20 points) farther from the bottom of the Eastern Conference and avenged a loss from earlier this month to the Devils (14-6-4, 32 points). Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck each scored and Jared McCann tallied the game-winner with 7:15 left in the third period.

Between Saturday's loss to Chicago and Monday's game in New Jersey, a host of Panthers personnel displayed a sense of urgency. Barkov said the Panthers needed to avoid frustration but play "pissed off." Trocheck said the team needed to get back to playing desperate hockey. Coach Bob Boughner talked about the club's preparation needing to improve in all areas, including both coaches and players.

Trocheck and Barkov returned to the ice after Saturday's loss to work on their shooting. The two star centers for the Panthers were in a shooting slump, so they fed each other passes and took aim at an empty net.

Monday was their first chance to show that things changed.


The Panthers came storming out of the gates in the first period. They stifled the Devils offense, suffocating it by keeping the puck in the New Jersey zone. As New Jersey mustered just three shots on goal, Trocheck and McCann each already had three of their own.

Luongo was barely tested in the first period, with the lone dangerous chance coming right at the end of the period. Luongo added it to his highlight reel. With John Moore speeding in and the final seconds ticking away, Luongo robbed him with a spectacular glove save as the buzzer sounded.

The second period looked much like the first, including the Panthers inability to crack Devils goaltender Cory Schneider at the back of the New Jersey defense. Trocheck tried to stuff a shot past Schneider's pad. Barkov nearly flipped a puck off Schneider and in. But he kept it goalless.

Until Barkov struck for his third short-handed goal of the season. With Denis Malgin in the penalty box for tripping, the Panthers forced a 2-on-1 short-handed opportunity. Barkov raced up the left side with Colton Sceviour to his right. After hesitating, Barkov whipped a shot that beat Schneider glove-side.


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