Martin Brodeur has the New Jersey Devils back in the win
The NHL-worst Florida Panthers have a chance to be there in
three straight games for the first time all season.
Brodeur could be in net for a second straight contest Saturday
night in New Jersey, where the Devils and Panthers meet for the
first time since last season’s first-round playoff matchup.
Out since Feb. 21 with a pinched nerve in his upper back and
neck, Brodeur made 17 saves and scored his third career goal off an
errant pass from Carolina’s Jordan Staal in Thursday’s 4-1 victory.
The Devils (14-11-6) had dropped three in a row overall and six
straight on the road.
“You know him coming back, he’s going to give you a boost,”
center Travis Zajac said. “But he was just awesome today.”
The Panthers don’t need to be reminded. Brodeur is 15-5-0 with a
1.90 goals-against average and three shutouts in his last 20
regular-season home starts against them.
The NHL’s all-time winningest goaltender started each game
during the 2012 Eastern Conference playoffs versus Florida,
stopping 57 of 61 shots in Game 6 and 7 victories – both went past
regulation – to give New Jersey its first playoff series win since
In the Panthers’ previous playoff appearance in 2000, Brodeur
stopped 98 of 104 shots in the Devils’ first-round sweep.
Florida (9-16-6) still has some playoff life this season, but
with a league-low 24 points, it will need a strong push over the
final five weeks if it’s going to make the postseason a year after
winning its first Southeast Division title.
The Panthers are heading in the right direction, defeating the
Hurricanes and the New York Rangers to open their season-high
“That’s seven or eight solid periods in a row for us,” coach
Kevin Dineen said after Thursday’s 3-1 victory over the Rangers.
“That’s what we’re looking for.”
The Panthers have won consecutive road games for the first time
since a four-game stretch that started with a 3-1 victory over the
Devils on Feb. 11, 2012 – their last regular-season game at New
Florida last won three straight overall during a five-game run
March 11-20, 2012.
Jacob Markstrom has lost both times he’s faced the Devils, but
there’s a good chance he’ll make a third consecutive start for the
Panthers. Markstrom has stopped 77 of 79 shots on the trip after
coming within 3:48 of his first NHL shutout Thursday.
“I felt really good from the start to the finish,” Markstrom
said after making a career-high 44 saves.
If that continues, the Panthers’ league-worst penalty kill (74.2
percent) has a good chance of improving. It already has, failing
just once in seven short-handed chances in the last two games.
New Jersey is 4 for 10 with the man advantage in its last
Forward Matt D’Agostini could make his Devils debut after being
acquired from St. Louis on Friday for a conditional seventh-round
pick in 2015. He has two points in 16 games after beginning the
season in Germany.
These clubs split four regular-season matchups in 2011-12, with
each winning once on the road.