NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, February 11th (All times Eastern)
Florida Panthers (25-17-11) at New Jersey Devils (31-19-4), 1 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Florida Panthers hope to reclaim sole possession of first place in the Southeast Division with a scarce road win against the Devils this afternoon in New Jersey.
The Panthers have posted a 5-5-4 record over their last 14 games and dropped into second place in the division with consecutive road losses in Tampa Bay and Washington. Their 4-0 setback to the Capitals on Tuesday put them one point behind Washington in the standings.
However, Florida rebounded with a 3-1 home win over Los Angeles on Thursday, while Washington dropped a shootout tally to Winnipeg. That evened up the division race once again at 61 points each, though a point today for the Panthers would snap the tie as the Capitals are idle.
Mike Santorelli helped key Thursday's win with a goal, while Sean Bergenheim also tallied and Scott Clemmensen made 22 saves as Florida snapped a seven- game skid to Los Angeles.
"The last game [in Washington], we didn't play too well. It was good to bounce back and we've got to keep this thing rolling," said Santorelli.
Things got dicey for the Panthers when Drew Doughty scored with 2:28 left in regulation for the Kings, but Matt Bradley restored the two-goal edge with an empty-netter.
"We really got back on our heels and that's not the type of game that we want," said Clemmensen. "We want to take it to the other team and we want to be going the whole 60 minutes."
The Panthers will also visit the Islanders on Sunday and have lost 10 of their past 11 overall on the road. That trend may continue tonight in New Jersey, where Florida has lost three of four and 11 of its past 14. That includes a 5-2 loss at the Prudential Center on Jan. 6 in the third of four meetings with the Devils this year after splitting a pair of encounters in Sunrise.
Patrik Elias played in his 1,000th game in that January meeting and set up one of two goals by Ilya Kovalchuk. Elias was one of three goal scorers for the Devils in Thursday's 4-3 shootout loss to the Blues that snapped New Jersey's season-high five-game win streak.
Zach Parise and Adam Henrique also scored for the Devils and Johan Hedberg made 23 saves while starting in place of Martin Brodeur, who was scratched from the lineup due to an ankle injury. Despite getting a point, New Jersey dropped three points behind Philadelphia for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference.
"Sometimes if you're playing good teams they are going to win too," said Hedberg. "They're a good team and they play consistent. They don't turn away from their system."
Although Brodeur was unable to suit up on Thursday, he is expected to get the start this afternoon. However, New Jersey still has the likes of Ryan Carter (hand), Adam Larsson (back), Henrik Tallinder (leg) and Travis Zajac (Achilles) on the shelf with injuries.
02/11 10:32:29 ET