Recap: Surging Panthers roar back in the third to beat Devils 4-2

Barkov equals franchise record for points in comeback win

Down two after forty minutes, the Florida Panthers roared back to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 to conclude a seven-game homestand at FLA Live Arena with 11 of 14 points.

After the Panthers outplayed the Devils in the first period, but were forced to settle for a scoreless tie thanks to a 16-save performance by rookie Akira Schimd, New Jersey took the lead with a shorthanded goal 2:16 into the second.

John Marino took a pass from Ryan Graves behind his own net and rung the puck around the boards. It bounced off Brandon Montour at the blue line, allowing Nico Hischier to break out 2-on-1 with Yegor Sharangovich. Hischier elected to shoot and put a perfectly-placed shot in off the far-side post.

The Devils would double their advantage at the 7:43 mark. Sergei Bobrovksy absolutely robbed Timo Meier on the doorstep after Brendan Smith ‘s blast caught the post. Jesper Boqvist couldn’t get the rebound to go and after Bobrovsky, who was without his stick, got tangled up in the crease with Marc Staal, Damon Severson crossed back to Boqvist for a second chance that he ripped into the net.

Florida would rebound and take the lead with three goals in a 2:30 span of the third period.

Aleksander Barkov halved the deficit at 6:14 when Montour’s rising shot from right down the pike struck Marc Staal up high and fortuitously dropped down onto the captain’s stick and he shot it into the empty net after Schmid lost sight of the puck.

The Comeback Cats would forge a tie 1:40 later. After Barkov won an offensive zone draw, Matthew Tkachuk sent the puck back to Carter Verhaeghe at the left point. Verhaeghe crossed to Montour, whose low shot towards the goal was deflected past a helpless Schimd by Sam Reinhart. The goal came with Severson off for interfering with Sam Bennett.

The Panthers surged ahead at 8:30 when Radko Gudas snapped a diagonal lead pass to Carter Verhaeghe, who gained and cut across the New Jersey zone and then saucered a cheeky backhand pass over the sticks of two defenders to Tkachuk. Tkachuk was able to gather and lift a backhander over Schimd from in-tight for the eventual game-winner, earning him First Star honors.

Bobrovksy stopped all 12 Devils shots in the final frame, including a back-to-back salvo off his mask, to finish with 33 saves and Barkov would send Reinhart away for the empty-net clincher with 21 seconds remaining after a Severson turnover.

The electrifiying victory pulled the Panthers within one point of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, with both teams having played 69 games. Pittsburgh, who fell 6-0 to the New York Rangers, was jumped in the standings by the New York Islanders, who posted a 4-1 win in San Jose. The Cats remain three points behind the Islanders with two games in hand. Florida’s 5-1-1 run over this homestand has put them in position to take either wild card spot.

Fire & Brimstone

  • Milestone night for Aleksander Barkov, whose goal and assist pushed him into a tie with Jonathan Huberdeau for the most points in franchise history. Barkov hit 613 points in 20 fewer games than Huberdeau.
  • Sam Reinhart’s game-tying, power-play marker was his 25th goal and 50th point of the season. This is the fifth time that Reinhart has produced 50 or more points. Reinhart’s 26 goals are the second-most in his career, behind last season’s 33.
  • The Devils were 28-0-2 this season when leading after two periods. New Jersey has now lost three straight, but remain firmly in second place in the Metropolitan Division.
  • Brandon Montour’s two assists put him at 58 points (12G/46A) this season, That’s the second-most by a defenseman in club history behind Keith Yandle’s record 62.
  • Nico Hischier bagged his third shorthanded goal of the season, the most for a Devil since Blake Coleman scored three in 2019-20.
  • The Panthers won the season series against the Devils two games to one, with all three tilts ending in 4-2 scores. Read more about it at All About The Jersey./