Florida Panthers edge out the New Jersey Devils for a much-needed victory

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 1: Aleksander Barkov
SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 1: Aleksander Barkov /

After a thriller overtime victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Florida Panthers were looking to win their fourth straight against the New Jersey Devils.

Net minders Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider started in-goal for their respective sides. Only one however would end up victorious, but who would it be?

The Panthers started the game off well, getting on the end of every loose puck in sight. The Cats were buzzing hard, displaying a level of urgency in their game. The Devils on the other hand were asleep, losing every puck battle along the boards.

Florida created some solid scoring opportunities in the Devils’ zone, but were denied by Cory Schneider in the end. Although, the Panthers were inching closer to breaking the deadlock, and it was only a matter of time where a goal would be scored.

Just six a half minutes into the opening period, and the Cats struck first. Aleksander Barkov threw a pass near Schneider’s goal, which found its way going in after Bjugstad and Hischier crashed hard into goal.

At first, the goal was given to Nick Bjugstad, but later throughout the game, NHL found that Bjugstad didn’t touch the puck, which resulted in the goal being awarded to Aleksander Barkov:

Immediately after the goal, the Devils challenged for goaltender interference. The referees went to the penalty box to review the play, and deemed that there was no goaltender interference on the play, resulting in a good goal.

As the period progressed, the Devils started to pick up momentum in their play. Florida was starting to fall asleep in their own end, resulting with multiple turnovers in front of goal. Thankfully, with Roberto Luongo’s solid play, the score remained 1-0 in favor for the Cats.

Florida ran into some trouble late in the first when Michael Matheson hooked Miles Wood. The Devils ended up receiving the first power play of the game, being gifted a solid opportunity to tie the game. Fortunately though, the Panthers’ penalty killing unit killed off the penalty successfully, preserving their one-goal lead.

A couple of minutes later, Nick Bjugstad committed an offensive zone penalty (interference), which resulted in the Devils’ second man advantage. New Jersey created some good looks on the power play, but failed to capitalize in the remaining minute of the first period.

New Jersey’s power play would carry over to start the second, with Florida heading into the locker room with a 1-0 lead. The beginning of the first was all Florida in play, while the Devils dominated the remaining few minutes of the first.

With some time left on the Devils’ power play, Taylor Hall scored in the opening fifty seconds of the second period. Hall threw a shot from near the blue line, which deflected off of Ekblad’s stick, evening the game at one apiece:

Shortly after the goal, the Panthers began to wake up, regaining momentum on their side. With their strong play, they were rewarded with not only a power play, but a 5 on 3 advantage for 37 seconds.

The brief 5 on 3 gave the Panthers a golden opportunity to strike next. Unfortunately, they were sloppy and had a difficult time setting up in the Devils’ zone. New Jersey were intercepting everything at the blue line, simply icing any puck that came their way. In the end, Florida failed to cash in on their brief 5 on 3 advantage, wasting a glorious chance to regain the lead.

Much of the second was like a chess match, with either side cautiously waiting for a break. Both sides played solid defensively, limiting each others scoring chances at either ends of the rink. The second would conclude with a score line of 1-1.

Going into the third, the Cats knew they had to pour every ounce of energy left in order to win this hockey game. They managed to do just that!

As the Panthers scratched and clawed their way throughout the third, their grinding effort was rewarded at the nine minute mark, when Maxim Mamin regained their one-goal lead. Mamin drove behind the net, backhanding a shot off Schneider’s back and in:

Eight minutes later, the Panthers struck again. This time, it was no one else but yours truly… Aleksander Barkov! Barkov received a beautiful pass from Dadonov in front, where Barkov raced his way through on goal, backhanding a shot top-shelf:

It seemed as if the Panthers would run away with this game, but New Jersey made sure to put up a fight. Jonathan Huberdeau had an opportunity to seal victory late in the game with an empty net, but decided not to shoot. Eventually, all this passing led to a bad break which Keith Yandle caused, when he turned the puck over to Jesper Bratt.

As soon as Bratt took the puck off Yandle’s stick, the 19-year-old bolted down the ice and roofed a shot from the backhand, cutting Florida’s lead down to one:

The Florida Panthers managed to hang on to their one-goal lead, defeating the New Jersey Devils by a score of 3-2. A win against the Devils extended the Cats winning streak to four games, surpassing the New York Islanders in the race for the last wild card spot.

Overall, the Panthers played a solid game throughout the majority of the match, but need to pay very close attention to the small details in their own zone. Your Panthers are back in action on Friday, March 2nd @7:30pm against the Buffalo Sabres!