New Jersey Devils Visit Florida Panthers: Game 20 Preview

The Florida Panthers host the New Jersey Devils tonight in the first of four meetings between the two clubs this season.

The Florida Panthers will be playing against New Jersey for the first of four games this season and for the first of two in Sunrise.  Florida is 3-2-3 at home,  while the Devils are 6-4-0 on the road.  This is the second game of a four game homestand for the Cats, who will play the New York Rangers on Wednesday before finishing up their homestand on Friday with the first game in a round-robin series with the Tampa Bay Lightning, against whom they've already played three times this season.  The Devils will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at home on Wednesday. 

The teams last met in February, with New Jersey taking the victory against the fast-fading Panthers 2-1. Marty Reasoner scored the only Panthers goal for the game, with assists by Michael Repik and Mike Santorelli. Tomas Vokoun was adequate in goal, stopping 24 of 26 shots for Florida in the losing effort.

In their last game, Florida squeaked a regulation win out versus the high flying Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2.  Stephen Weiss took home the evening's first star by getting on the scorecard three times with the game winning goal and two assists.  Jose Theodore turned in another stellar effort, making 39 of 41 saves and keeping the Cats in it through a frenzied third period.  New Jersey meanwhile turned away a hot Tampa Bay team 4-2 by scoring three goals in the second period on a fading Dwayne RolosonMartin Brodeur took home his 629th career victory, stopping 21 of 23 shots for the win.

Season Series: 0-0-0
All-Time Series: 23-38-12
Game Time: 8:00 PM EST

Standings

Florida Panthers: 10-6-3, 23 points, first SE Divison, third Eastern Conference, 12th NHL, on pace for 99 points

New Jersey Devils: 10-7-1, 21 points, fourth Atlantic Division, 12th Eastern Conference, 20th NHL, on pace for 96 points


Lineup

The Panthers have several key personnel out with injuries.  Forward Mikael Samuellson has yet to skate with the team since the trade from Vancouver.  Forwards Matt Bradley and Scottie Upshall are also out for the game.  Forward Marcel Goc and goalie Scott Clemmensen are also doubtful for tonights matchup.  To counter the short roster, the Cats have called up forwards Evgeny Dadonov, Tim Kennedy, and Michal Repik as well as goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Probable Starters

Goaltenders:

Jose Theodore (7-4-2) will take another turn in net for the Cats while Johan Hedburg (6-4-1) is likely to take the ice for the Devils.

Forwards:

1. Fleischmann-Weiss-Versteeg 

2. Bergenheim-Kopecky-Dadonov

3. Santorelli-Sturm-Skille

4. Repik-Matthias-Kennedy

 Defense:

1. Campbell-Garrison

2. Jovanovski-Ellerby

3. Kulikov-Weaver

Common Thread:

Devils center Ryan Carter played 19 games for Florida (including seven earlier this season before being placed on waivers), scoring two goals and one assist, a plus-two rating and 28 penalty minutes for the Panthers.

Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen played in 65 games for the Devils over parts of five seasons with the club, posting a 32-19-5 record while with the team.  He put up a 2.54 GAA and a .910 save percentage as a member of the Devils.

Team Milestones:

Ed Jovanovski's next goal will be his 32nd, which will move him into a tie for 32nd with Richard Zednik.  His next assist will give him 58 with the Panthers, tying him with Paul Laus, in 30th.

Mike Santorelli's next goal will be number 24 as a Panther, moving him into a tie with Dave Gagner in 45th place all-time.

With three more points, Stephen Weiss will have 354, moving him into a tie for second all-time with Scott Mellanby.

Team Leaders:

Goals:

Kris Versteeg - 9

Tomas Fleischmann - 8

Jason Garrison, Stephen Weiss - 7

Assists:

Brian Campbell - 16

Dmitry Kulikov, Kris Versteeg - 13

Points:

Kris Versteeg - 22

Tomas Fleischmann - 19

Stephen Weiss, Brian Campbell - 18

Plus/Minus:

Tomas Fleischmann - plus-11

Stephen Weiss - plus-10

Kris Versteeg - plus-nine

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