Brad Boyes scored an unassisted goal and set up Scottie Upshall's game-winning strike in the third period to lead the Florida Panthers to a 5-3 come from behind win over the New Jersey Devils last night at the BB&T Center.
Vincent Trocheck added the clincher, scoring his first NHL goal with 33 seconds remaining in regulation to bring Florida's three-game losing streak to an end. Trocheck chased down Brian Campbell's clear and found the back of the empty net.
Panthers' goaltender Roberto Luongo turned aside 28 shots to get the best of his former Vancouver battery-mate Cory Schneider, who finished with 17 saves.
The game was a back and forth affair with momentum swinging wildly depending on the period.
The Cats dominated much of the first, drawing first blood when Campbell picked up a loose puck in front and deposited it past Schneider. Jimmy Hayes and Jonathan Huberdeau picked up the assists on Campbell's seventh of the season.
Unfortunately, Tomas Fleischmann took a tripping penalty late in the period, setting the stage for a Jaromir Jagr power-play goal at the 18:15 mark.
The Devils came out blazing in the second, and and gained the upper hand on even-strength goals from Bryce Salvador at 2:02, and Patrik Elias at 13:13.
New Jersey outshot Florida 14-2 during the frame, but the Panthers got a huge tally from Quinton Howden 77 seconds after the Elias' goal to pull within one. Scott Gomez collected his own rebound and made a sweet pass to Howden, who lit the lamp for the second night in a row by beating Schneider from in tight. Huberdeau got credit for the secondary helper to post a two-point night.
The Devils got the best of the Panthers on the shot clock again in the third, but Florida did all the scoring.
Boyes picked off a terrible Mark Fayne pass and quickly broke in on goal and fired the puck between the pads of Schneider to tie the game 4:24 into the frame. Upshall's game-winning wrister came Mike Eurzione-style at exactly the ten-minute mark to give the Panthers the lead.
The Cats started and finished the game strong, but they allowed the Devils to seize control of the second act and New Jersey seemed to be choking the life out of them until Howden's big goal. It was nice to see Florida rally in the third and strike a blow to the playoff chances of the team that knocked them out in round one two years ago. Not a vintage Luongo performance, but he came up big enough and kept the Devils off the board in the third period to help the Cats get the win. It's not often the Panthers score five times in a single game, so let's savor this one. Florida gets a much needed day of rest before Sunday's intriguing matinee matchup against the Vancouver Canucks.
Odds & Ends
- Roberto Luongo got the best of Cory Schneider for the third time this season. Louie backstopped two Vancouver wins over the Devils in addition to last night's victory.
- The two second period shots tied a season-low for the Panthers. The Red Wings limited the Cats to two shots in the opening period of their February 6th affair.
- The decision in Florida's favor kept former coach Peter DeBoer from claiming his 200th NHL win. Sorry Pete, close but no cigar.
- Tomas Fleischmann suited up for his 500th career NHL game. Flash didn't have the best of milestone nights, finishing with just a single shot on goal and taking a penalty which swung the momentum in the Devils favor.
- All of sudden Jimmy Hayes seems to blossoming offensively. The big winger now has four points in his last four games.
- Bryce Salvador's goal,which bounced in off of innocent bystander Dylan Olsen, was his first since March 10, 2010 against the New York Rangers.
- With the Panthers playing for a second consecutive night, old-timer Ed Jovanovski took a maintenance day. He was replaced by call-up Colby Robak, who made his first appearance of the season and finished with a +1 rating.
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