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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 30th (All times Eastern)

New Jersey Devils (15-11-8) at Florida Panthers (10-19-6), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The New Jersey Devils did everything but win on Friday night, though they were able to stretch their current points streak to four games.

In the midst of a tight race for the final few playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, the Devils would probably prefer to pick up two points on Saturday night against the last-place Florida Panthers.

New Jersey has followed up a pair of victories -- including a 2-1 home win over Florida last Saturday -- with consecutive shootout losses. The Devils were within seconds of picking up a regulation win on Friday night versus the Tampa Bay Lightning, but yielded the game-tying goal with 16 ticks left in regulation before eventually dropping a 5-4 shootout decision.

Martin Brodeur made 21 saves, but was beaten twice in the shootout. New Jersey's Travis Zajac, meanwhile, was wide with his attempt and Patrik Elias never got a shot off on his try after getting the puck poke checked away.

Both losses for the Devils have come without Ilya Kovalchuk, who suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday versus the Panthers and is expected to miss 2- to-4 weeks of action.

"It's disappointing when you're 15 seconds away from getting two points," Devils head coach Peter DeBoer said. "We'll just put our one point in the bank and keep moving forward."

The point earned gave the Devils 38 on the season, putting them seventh in the East and three ahead of both the New York Rangers and New York Islanders. Both of those clubs are in action on Saturday as well.

New Jersey certainly did not have trouble scoring versus Tampa Bay and did so a handful of different ways.

Tom Kostopoulos followed Andrei Loktionov's seventh goal of the season by scoring on a penalty shot, Andy Greene scored on the power play late in the second period and Ryan Carter tallied New Jersey's league-leading ninth shorthanded marker of the campaign early in the third to give the Devils a two-goal lead.

It was a nice sign for the Devils' offense, which has been held to two goals or fewer in five of its last seven games. That includes the game versus the Panthers, but tallies from David Clarkson and Elias were enough thanks to 17 saves by Brodeur.

The Devils have beaten the Panthers in four of the previous six meetings overall.

Peter Mueller had the lone Florida goal and Scott Clemmensen yielded two goals on 23 shots as his club had a two-game winning streak end.

The Panthers then lost road contests versus the Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs before halting their slide with Thursday's 5-4 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres.

Rookie Jonathan Huberdeau scored a game-tying goal on the power play with 6:09 to play in the third and also scored a shootout goal. He evened the breakaway frame at one goal apiece before Mike Santorelli won it in the fourth round.

"It was an important goal in the third to tie the game," Huberdeau said after snapping a nine-game goal drought. "The team had a great effort tonight. We were up 2-0 and we came back two times in this game. We want to work and we want to get wins."

Huberdeau leads all rookies with 13 goals.

Shawn Matthias scored twice and Tomas Fleischmann added a power-play goal for the Panthers, who won for just the third time in their last 12 games. Jacob Markstrom posted 36 saves, while Mueller and Brian Campbell had two assists each.

Florida is last in the Eastern Conference with 26 points.

03/30 10:30:10 ET

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