It didn’t take long for the Panthers to go on to test their newfound success on the power play, Mike Cammalleri held Willie Mitchell before two minutes were gone in the first. The only success found on the power play, however, was New Jersey’s ability to clear out the puck. The Devils made three clears before Scottie Upshall got a good looking chance to bury the puck off a Shawn Thornton shot.
Brandon Pirri seemed to be everywhere in the early going, fighting for the puck, collecting his own rebound for a second chance, and blocking shots on the defensive side. Seems to be only a matter of time before he starts to light up the scoresheet.
42-year-old Jaromir Jagr opened the scoring at the 9:40 mark, beating Roberto Luongo on the glove side by flipping the puck over Bobby Lou’s mitt from about eight feet out for his 10th of the season. Dainius Zubrus and Cammalleri earned the assists on the goal.
Five minutes later, after Dmitry Kulikov was caught for holding Steve Bernier, Bernier himself fed the puck back between his legs to hit Cammalleri on the tape to beat Luongo for a 2-0 Devils lead. It was New Jersey’s fourth shot of the night. The period ended with the Devils leading the Panthers with 10 shots on goal to only five. New Jersey won 14-of-18 face-offs against the Cats through the frame, while Florida outmuscled the Devils by making 14 hits to only six. Derek MacKenzie had five hits all by himself.
The second period would see the Devils fail to take a single shot on goal until there were only two seconds remaining until the intermission. In the meantime, the Panthers had a grand total of 12 shots find Kinkaid's glove. Jussi Jokinen was called for holding at around the 12:30 mark, giving the Devils another man advantage. After successfully killing it for one minute, Jagr was called for interference at the 13:33 mark.
The teams skated four-on-four for a minute, with the Panthers getting the better of it but neither team doing well enough to get a shot off on their respective opposing goaltenders. The Panthers power play was completely ineffective in their minute of numerical superiority. The period, controlled by the Panthers from wire to wire, ended as it had begun, with the Devils clinging to a 2-0 lead.
20 actual minutes later, the teams reconvened for the final 20 minute period. Nothing was happening for either team until offsetting penalties was called with about 12 minutes remaining. Bernier and Nick Bjugstad were called for roughing on each other.
Bjugstad, Jokinen and Pirri teamed up for a textbook chance to ruin Kinkaid’s shutout with five minutes remaining, but Pirri sliced it just wide. The Panthers pulled Luongo with three entire minutes remaining to try to cut into the still-two goal deficit, but Steve Bernier put an end to that just 30 seconds later by burying the puck into the untended goal for a three goal Devils’ lead.
Brandon Pirri scored on his fifth shot of the game a minute later with an assist from Brian Campbell to cut into New Jersey’s lead by one, so the Panthers pulled Luongo again. The contest ended without further development.
The Devils managed a total of four shots on goal through the last 40 minutes of the game, content to just milk the lead and play solid defense to limit Florida’s chances. Dave Bolland had four shots on goal, MacKenzie had a game-leading seven hits. Travis Zajac won 16-of-21 face-offs, a 76% success rate.
For more from the Newark side, check out In Lou We Trust.