After a scoreless first period that saw Evgenii Dadonov’s redirection catch the post and Aaron Ekblad’s shorthanded bid for glory go high after a sweet set-up from Aleksander Barkov, Florida spotted visiting New Jersey a 2-0 lead early in the second.
Miles Wood deflected Sami Vatanen’s shot from the point off the ice and up and over James Reimer at the 1:23 mark and Blake Coleman easily beat Reimer’s wanting glove at 6:01 for a shorthanded goal after a ghastly turnover by Barkov at center ice.
A steamed Barkov would get the goal back 90 seconds later with Travis Zajac in the sin bin for slashing. Huberdeau won a battle along the boards to get the puck down low to Dadonov and he fed Barkov in the lower left circle for a one-timer.
Jared McCann took a pass from a rushing MacKenzie Weegar and solved Keith Kinkaid with a wrister from the slot after a subtle deke at 11:23 to tie the score.
The Devils regained the lead 11:27 into the final frame when Jesper Bratt deflected another point shot from Vatanen under the right arm of Reimer. Taylor Hall drew the second assist on Bratt’s second of the season.
Huberdeau would even the game with time running out and Reimer off for an extra attacker. After passing off to Barkov, Huberdeau headed to the net from the point and redirected the return feed towards the goal. His redirection was in turn deflected on net by Dadonov and Huberdeau punched the rebound home to end a seven-game drought and collect his 100th NHL goal.
Hoffman came close to winning the game 1:02 into the extra session, but his shot rang off the post after he blew it through Kinkaid on a 2-on-1 break with Huberdeau.
No goal, no problem. Huberdeau did masterful job of carrying the puck up ice, gaining the zone, and breaking free to dish off to Hoffman, who scorched a one-timer from the riht circle by Kinkaid 26 seconds later for the win. Bonus point, Panthers!
After blowing a pair of two-goal leads in a disheartening loss to Chicago on Saturday, this was huge character-type win for the Panthers, who overcame a poor start to the second period, surrendered yet another shorthanded goal (that’s got to stop) and fell behind in the third. Jonathan Huberdeau came up big in the end game and James Reimer stopped 29 shots to backstop his club to the streak-busting victory. Mike Hoffman’s game-winner gave him 12 goals and points in 19 of his last 20 games. The Panthers did a good job of staying out of the box (only two penalties) and wore down the Devils, who are now 2-9-1 on the road and 0-4 in overtime this season, in what looks to be a case of right opponent at the right time. Florida can climb back over NHL .500 with a win on Wednesday against Anaheim.
Video Recap (courtesy of NHL.com)