Whatever good will the Florida Panthers produced in Thursday's gritty 3-2 overtime loss in Tampa quickly went up in flames as the team got absolutely smoked by the New Jersey Devils in Saturday night's home-opener at the BB&T Center.
The suddenly dangerous-looking Devils put four past a hung-out-to-dry Roberto Luongo in the opening frame and struck for a fifth early in the second period to send the veteran goaltender to the bench in favor of backup Al Montoya, who mercifully stopped all ten shots he faced to prevent a monster blowout.
Tuomo Ruutu, Martin Havlat, Mike Cammalleri, Damon Severson and Ryane Clowe made up the quintet of New Jersey goal-scorers, and Eric Gelinas added two assists.
Florida's penalty-killing woes continued as the Devils went a tidy 2 for 5 on the power play.
Derek MacKenzie broke up Cory Schneider's shutout with his first as Panther at the 16:31 mark of the second period. Scottie Upshall and Brian Campbell picked up the assists on MacKenzie's redirection marker. The lone bright spot in an opening night to forget.
The Panthers had four straight power plays in the third period but could not cut any further into the Devils lead.
This one had everything we've come to loathe in the local team. Lack of intensity, sloppy play, anemic offense, swiss cheese defense, garbage special teams and stupid penalties. In short, just an absolute nightmare of a home debut for this year's model, both on and off the ice, as the game was attended by just 11, 419 people. Thankfully, Monday's game against Ottawa offers a chance for quick redemption. I'm just wondering if anyone will be there to see it?
Odds & Ends
- Roberto Luongo surrendered 5 goals on 14 shots in his 22:47 of action. He'll be looking for some actual support from his teammates next time out.
- The Panthers are picking up right where they left off last season on special teams. The power play is 1 for 10 and they've only managed to kill off 7 of 12 of the opposition's man-advantage opportunities. Kind of makes you wonder what they've been working on in practice since September?
- Rookie Damon Severson's picked up his first NHL goal and assist during the Devils' explosive first period.
- Cory Schneider finished with 28 saves on 29 shots, including 13 stops in the third period when New Jersey was in run-out-the-clock mode. The win was his first against Luongo.
- Shawn Thornton and Tomas Fleischmann each had four shots on goal to pace the Panthers.
- Former coach Peter DeBoer raised his record against the Cats to 7-3-1.
- Check out In Lou We Trust for more on the Devils victory.