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Recap: Panthers fall to NHL .500 with 4-2 loss to Devils

Bratt brace sends slumping Cats to sixth place in the Atlantic

New Jersey Devils v Florida Panthers Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

The Florida Panthers dropped a tough 4-2 decision to the New Jersey Devils, who ended a six-game losing streak, at FLA Live Arena in a game broadcast to a national audience on TNT.

Jeckyll showed up first as the Cats took an early lead at 4:45 when Eric Staal potted a rebound after he was initally denied by Mackenzie Blackwood, who lost his goal stick, and Nick Cousins and Ryan Lomberg took unsuccessful cracks at it. Four-four-four, the number of the Staal.

A hi-sticking penalty on Anton Lundell and a Staal faceoff loss allowed the Devils to even the score 2:16 later. Dougie Hamilton sent a short cross to Jack Hughes, who went back across the grain to Jesper Bratt in the right circle. Bratt dropped to his knee to put a one-timer by Sergei Bobrovksy.

Eetu Luostarinen gave the Panthers lead back with 3:48 left in the second period and Florida up a man. After taking an exit pass from Anton Lundell, Sam Bennett chipped the gained the zone, put the puck off the boards and worked his way around defenseman Brendan Smith before passing to the slot, where Luostarinen beat Blackwood blocker-side with a wicked wrister.

Hyde showed up in the third period as New Jersey scored three times and the Panthers failed to answer.

Bratt would go the other way and tie the game at the 2:44 mark, beating Bobrovsky’s glove after Hamilton broke up Brandon Montour’s pass for Luostarinen at the New Jersey blue line. The goal came forty seconds after Blackwood made a huge glove save on a Lomberg backhander.

Yegor Sharangovich got the game-winner at 10:10 by tipping in a shot from Jonas Siegenthaler after Michael McLeod circled the net and fed the defenseman at the point. Both players picked up their 11th assists of the season on Sharangovich’s ninth.

A giveaway allowed Thomas Tatar to ice it unassisted into an empty net to complete the scoring with forty seconds left on the clock.

After Tatar’s goal three Cats and a Devil got tossed as things devolved with Florida looking for some payback for Nico Hischier’s cross-check on Aleksander Barkov’s knee in the last meeting.

Once again, the Panthers got outplayed in the third period of a close tilt and fell to a Devils team that played the night before and was short a defenseman for much of the game. The inconsistent Cats now find themselves four points out of a playoff and the same number out of last place in the Atlantic Division. Florida will play again on Friday, an important roadie against the New York Islanders, who currently hold the second wild card spot, before getting a holiday break.

Fire & Brimstone

  • Eric Staal scored in consecutive games for the first time since January 22 and 24, 2021. Staal has three goals in his last six games and has collected a point in eight of Florida’s 11 December games.
  • Mackenzie Blackwood made 34 saves in his first start since November 3. The recently-returned Blackwood worked off some rust off during the third period of New Jersey’s loss to Carolina on Tuesday.
  • With his first period assist, 21-year-old Jack Hughes has 146 points in 199 NHL games, tying Scott Gomez for the fourth-most points in Devils history among players under the age of 22.
  • Anton Lundell saw action for the first time since December versus Seattle. Lundell had an assists, two shots on goal and won 63% of his faceoffs in 14:10 TOI.
  • Sergei Bobrovsky finished the game with 29 stops and took his tenth loss of the season.
  • The season series is knotted at ones, read more about it at All About The Jersey,