As previously noted, Florida started out skating hard, and put a few quality shots on net in the first minute. Martin Brodeur was up to the task, however, and turned away every shot. The Cats strung together overlapping power plays, including a 5-on-3 for a full minute, but could not muster any goals for their efforts.
Soon after the power play expired, Ilya Kovalchuk notched his fourth goal of the season with assists by Henrik Tallinder and Andy Greene. Just over a minute later, Petr Sykora scored his fourth goal of the year with helpers from Adam Larsson and Andy Greene. With the Cats on their heels, Dainus Zubrus put the Devils on top 3-0 with a surpise goal on Jose Theodore with assists from Patrik Elias and Martin Brodeur. Brodeur was able to hold the stunned Panthers scoreless in ten shots on goal to close out the first period.
The first line again started out looking good, putting a couple of good shots on net during the first three minutes of the second period. With 2:24 gone in the period, Shawn Matthias and Rod Pelley dropped the gloves and had it out. Pelley promptly dropped Matthias, and both skaters served a five-minute minor for fighting. Although Matthias had the worse end of the deal, he made the statement that he wouldn't be taken for granted.
Stephen Weiss was soon afterward called for hooking in the offensive zone, putting the Devils on the power play. Sean Bergenheim had a shorthanded breakaway stopped by Brodeur and David Clarkson drilled Dmitry Kulikov during the power play, but the Devils couldn't get anything going. Jack Skille was making life difficult for opposing defensemen by playing the role of pest for the cats.
At 5:28, Kulikov and Weiss assisted Kris Versteeg on his 10th goal of the season. For the next few minutes, the teams traded chances with Tomas Kopecky strong on the puck and Michal Repik putting a good slapper on net for Florida.
The Devils almost broke out, but Mike Weaver dropped to his knees and kept the puck back in the neutral zone with a gutsy defensive play. Jason Garrison put a hard shot on net and Versteeg followed up with his second goal of the night and 11th of the season to bring the Panthers to 3-2.
Evgeny Dadonov almost had his third of the season on a great chance but shot the puck just wide of the net from point blank. Florida outshot New Jersey 15 shots to nine during the frame.
Adam Henrique almost put the Devils on top 4-2 early in the period, but the puck rang helplessly off the post. The Cats controlled most of the third period, with contributors from all across the roster. Of course the first line was great, but the second line also had some quality chances on net.
Matthias stole the puck from Brodeur on an attempted clear and almost scored, but Martin beat him just in time. Skille hustled and stole the puck on another attempted clearing pass from the Devils and put the puck through the goal mouth, but there was nobody home. Michal Repik then almost scored on a breakaway, but Brodeur was still keeping the Devils in the game, and easily turned him away.
With 7:20 gone, Henrik Tallinder shot the puck over the glass, incurring a delay of game penalty, putting the Cats on the power play. Bergenheim then had a golden opportunity with a breakaway on Brodeur, but Martin was still standing tall for the Devils. The Panthers took questionable back to back penalties, Fleischmann for holding and Skille for interference. This put the Panthers down four skaters to three.
On the ensuing faceoff, Weaver took a shot off his knee and the rebound bounced out to Weiss, who passed to Garrison and skated free for the return pass, beating Brodeur top-shelf with a shorthanded goal to bring the Panthers even, 3-3. The Panthers then went on the penalty kill, dusting off the Devils 5-on-4, 5-on-3, then 5-on-4 with timely clears by the Florida defensemen and limiting the Devils to only one shot on goal.
Bryce Salvadore then put the puck over the glass for the Devils second delay of game call for the period. The Cats followed with a quality power play putting three shots on goal but not generating any scoring.
Fleischmann was skating like the Flash, beating several defenders and almost scoring with 2:30 left in the game, but Brodeur made the stop. Soon after, Weiss and Versteeg would assist Flash on the game winning goal, which saw him hold the puck and draw Brodeur out of position before shooting. The Cats led 4-3.
New Jersey pulled the goaltender for the extra attacker, but the Devils couldn't muster a quality scoring chance, as the Panthers killed off the rest of the clock and took the two points in regulation.
After allowing the three-goal blitzkreig in the first, Theodore was rock solid in net for Florida, stopping all 17 of New Jersey's shots through the rest of the game.
The Florida defensive corps notched four more assists, bringing their league leading points total to 58.
The Versteeg-Fleischmann-Weiss line was again responsible for all the Panthers scoring, tabbing all four goals and adding three assists for Florida.
With his three points, Weiss moved into a tie for second all-time with Scott Mellanby at 354.
Kulikov's 46th career assist moves him into a tie for 41st all-time with Juraj Kolnik.
The Panthers are 2-0 halfway through their homestand, and meet the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.