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NHL Game Summary - New Jersey at Florida



(Wednesday, March 3rd)

Final Score: New Jersey 5, Florida 2

Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Scott Gomez scored a goal and assisted on four others for a five-point night, as the New Jersey Devils ended a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 rout of the Florida Panthers at the Office Depot Center.

Patrik Elias scored twice and added an assist for New Jersey, while Brian Gionta and Scott Niedermayer also found the back of the net. Martin Brodeur finished with 27 saves and improved to 21-2-3 in his last 26 games against the Panthers.

Marcus Nilson and Juraj Kolnik scored for Florida, which lost for just the second time in its last nine (4-2-3).

Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo, coming off his fourth shutout in seven games after a 1-0 win at Washington on Tuesday, was torched for four goals on 26 shots in two periods before being pulled.

"I didn't feel right from the beginning," said Luongo. "I started out sluggish. This is one I'm going to have to put behind me."

The game was tied at 1-1 after 20 minutes, but New Jersey erupted for three goals in the second to break it open. The Devils had scored only a total of three goals in their previous three games.

"We've been sliding back a little too much," said Gomez, who matched a career high with his five points. "We needed to stop the bleeding. It was a great team effort tonight."

Elias got it started just 1:15 into the period with his first of the game. Brian Rafalski started the play with a pass at center ice to a streaking Gomez along the right wing. Gomez carried the puck into the Florida zone and made a neat backhand pass toward the slot for an onrushing Elias, who chipped a shot past Luongo.

The Devils then cashed in a 5-on-3 power play with 4:41 to play in the period. New Jersey worked the puck around the perimeter and Gomez fed Niedermayer, who snapped a wrist shot from the edge of the right circle past Luongo on the stick side for his 10th goal of the season.

"The chance on that 5-on-3 was the killer," said Devils head coach Pat Burns. "We just happened to hit Luongo on a bad night."

Elias then made it 4-1 just 27 seconds before the end of the period on a beautiful give and go with Gomez. Elias skated the puck into the Florida zone and left a pass for Gomez at the top of the right circle, then went to the net to take the return feed for his 30th goal of the season.

Florida got one back just four minutes into the third when Kolnik beat Brodeur with a shot from the slot for his 13th goal.

Gomez, though, sealed the contest just over three minutes later on a breakaway, scoring his ninth of the season.

"The difference was we gave them too many odd-man situations tonight because we were trying to generate," said Panthers head coach John Torchetti. "That's why they're Stanley Cup champions. They stick to their system and they wait for you to try to get a little bit greedy, where you're not supposed to get greedy."

Steve Shields played the third period in net for Florida and stopped 10 shots.

The Devils grabbed the lead just 45 seconds into the contest. Gomez won a faceoff in the right circle and Gionta snapped a wrist shot past Luongo for his 19th goal.

Florida tied it at the 2:05 mark when Nilson backhanded home the rebound of a Kristian Huselius shot for his sixth goal of the season.

Game Notes

Elias reached 30 goals for the third time in his career and for the first time since the 2000-01 season. He had 29 in '01-02 and 28 last year. Elias also has 199 career goals...Rafalski returned from a knee injury to notch three assists in the victory...Niedermayer added an assist...Florida fell to 0-12-1 in its last 13 home games against Brodeur and hasn't beaten him on home ice since April 9, 1997.

03/04 00:08:31 ET


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