NHL Hockey

Final 1 2 3 Tot
New Jersey 0 2 0 2
Florida 0 0 4 4
3:00 PM PT4:00 PM MT5:00 PM CT6:00 PM ET22:00 GMT6:00 3:00 PM MST5:00 PM EST2:00 UAE (+1)18:00 ETNaN:� BRT, March 18, 2023
FLA Live Arena, Sunrise, Florida  Attendance: 17,321

Panthers look to ride magical performance into affair with Devils

New Jersey Devils at Florida Panthers

  1. The teams split two meetings in December, with each posting a 4-2 road win. The Devils' triumph on Dec. 21 ended Florida's eight-game home point streak in the series that stretched back to Oct. 11, 2014.
  2. Coming off back-to-back home setbacks against Tampa Bay, the Devils are looking to avoid their first three-game winless streak since a season-high six-game stretch from Dec. 9-20. They can become the first team with three road point streaks of at least seven games in one season since Colorado in 2000-01.
  3. Vitek Vanecek has a 2.58 goals-against average and .914 save percentage during an 11-game road point streak (10-0-1) that's two short of Martin Brodeur's franchise record (Dec. 22, 2000-Feb. 11, 2001). It's the longest in the NHL since Andrei Vasilevskiy went 10-0-2 from Nov. 29, 2019-Feb. 11, 2020.
  4. En route to a 9-5 victory over Montreal on Thursday, the Panthers recorded the NHL's first seven-goal first period since Oct. 19, 1985 (Hartford). They're trying to extend their point streak to a season-high six games.
  5. Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and three assists on Thursday, becoming the second player in Panthers history to collect at least three points in three straight games and the first since Pavel Bure in December 1999. His father, Keith, had a four-game streak from Dec. 1-10, 2005.
  6. Aaron Ekblad scored twice on Thursday to become the eighth active defenseman with at least eight 10-goal seasons. All other defensemen in Panthers history have combined for 15 such seasons.

Now to see what the Florida Panthers do for an encore.

After setting a franchise record with seven goals in the first period Thursday en route to a 9-5 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, the Panthers hope to sustain at least some of that roll Saturday when they host the New Jersey Devils in Sunrise, Fla.

Florida likely will not need a nine-goal outburst to beat the Devils, but dearly could use another victory in its push for a playoff spot, which has been gathering steam the last couple of weeks.

The Panthers (34-27-7, 75 points) are on a 4-0-1 run that has them within three points of a playoff spot with 14 games remaining. Florida has two games in hand on the New York Islanders, who hold the second wild-card position.

"We just want to keep it going," forward Carter Verhaeghe said. "We didn't like our game in the third (period) that much. It was a little tough to play there. We liked our game in the first period and we want to keep on going."

The Panthers can certainly build off that offensive outburst, with a few players on hot streaks. None are hotter than left winger Matthew Tkachuk, who has amassed three or more points in each of the past three games and center Aleksander Barkov, who has recorded eight points (1-7-8) in a five-game spree.

Tkachuk notched four points while Barkov netted two in the wild affair against the Canadiens.

"I've never seen anything like that in 25 years, that many goals" Florida coach Paul Maurice said. "There were more goals than chances to score, and that's a rarity. All I can say is that it completely affected the rest of the game for both teams."

The Devils (44-17-7, 95 points) are right behind the Carolina Hurricanes for top spot in the Metropolitan Division, but need to regroup from a pair of losses in consecutive home games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

New Jersey dropped a 4-3 shootout game to the Lightning on Thursday, two nights after losing 4-1.

"We got a point but it still feels like we got out short a little bit," said captain Nico Hischier, who collected a pair of assists Thursday.

The Devils on three occasions erased a one-goal deficit but could not summon a go-ahead goal, and have lost consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 23-28.

Not all the news is bad for the Devils, though. Forward Timo Meier scored twice, including the game-tying tally late in the third period to force overtime. Meier, who was acquired from the San Jose Sharks before the trade deadline, scored in his Devils' debut, but had been blanked in the five games that followed.

His first Thursday came on a rebound from a sharp angle after he passed to Hischier on the rush. Meier's second was a rocket of a short-side one-timer from the right circle. It was his team's first power-play goal in four games.

"Timo's just trying to fit in and sometimes it takes 10 or 15 games to figure out what fits," coach Lindy Ruff said. "We know he's a great shooter, so you got to get the puck on his stick. We got to get him in position to shoot."

--Field Level Media

Updated March 17, 2023

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