Florida Panthers Host New Jersey Devils Tonight

The Florida Panthers start a four game homestand against the New Jersey Devils in Sunrise tonight.

The Florida Panthers are ready for some home cooking.

After an eight game stretch which saw the Panthers visit eight cities in 16 nights (4-3-1), the Cats are finally back at the Bank-Atlantic Centre. It is the second of four meetings this season between the two clubs, and the final matchup in Sunrise. Florida has posted a 6-2-4 home record this season while the Devils are 8-8-0 away from New Jersey. Florida will be playing the first game of a four game homestand. They go on to host the Calgary Flames on Friday night, the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday Afternoon before closing out the homestand on Tuesday night against the Phoenix Coyotes. The Devils are playing their second road game in Florida in as many nights, and return to New Jersey to face the Dallas Stars on Friday night.

The teams last met on November 21st in Florida, with the Panthers handing the Devils a 4-3 loss. The Panthers had an 11-6-3 record after the matchup, and the Devils were 10-8-1. New Jersey scored three goals in the first period before Florida answered with four straight to send the Devils home disappointed. Kris Versteeg scored his 10th and 11th goals in the second, Stephen Weiss added his eighth goal on a penalty kill midway through the third, and Tomas Fleischmann scored the game winner with his ninth of the season with two minutes remaining in regulation. Jose Theodore stopped 22 of 25 shots for the victory, while Martin Brodeur allowed all four goals on 36 shots in defeat for New Jersey.

Devils @ Panthers 11/21/11 (via NHLVideo)

In Florida's last game, the Panthers lost to the New York Rangers, 6-1 on the strength of a four goal second by New York. Florida's only goal was on Erik Gudbranson's one-timer near the end of the first period. Assists were awarded to Kris Versteeg and Stephen Weiss. Five Panthers finished the game at minus-two or worse and Jose Theodore allowed all six goals on only 22 shots in the loss. 

Panthers @ Rangers 12/11/11 (via NHLVideo)

The Devils won a road contest, 5-4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning last night. Adam Henrique and Zach Parise each scored a goal and two assists while Ilya Kovalchuk, Petr Sykora and Dainius Zubrus added markers for the Devils. Johan Hedberg stopped 32 of 36 shots on goal for New Jersey.

Devils Hold Off Lightning, 5-4 (via ESPN)


Season Series: 1-0-0

 

All-Time Series: 24-38-12

 

Game Time: 7:30 EST

 

Standings

Florida Panthers: 16-9-5, 37 points, first SE Division, third Eastern Conference, 10th NHL, on pace for 101 points.

New Jersey Devils: 15-13-1, 31 points, fourth Atlantic Division, ninth Eastern Conference, 18th NHL, on pace for 88 points.

Injuries:

Forwards Scottie Upshall and Marcel Goc are out. Forward Marc Cullen is listed as questionable for the Panthers.

Probable Starters

Goaltenders:

Jose Theodore (11-6-3) will get the start in goal for the Panthers tonight. Johan Hedburg played for the Devils last night, so expect Martin Brodeur (6-8-0) to take the ice for the Devils.

Forwards:

1. Fleischmann - Weiss - Versteeg

2. Bergenheim - Matthias - Kopecky

3. Sturm - Santorelli - Skille

4. Barch - Kennedy - Samuelsson

Defense:

1. Campbell - Garrison

2. Jovanovski - Gudbranson

3. Kulikov - Weaver

Common Thread:

Devils center Ryan Carter played in 19 games over two seasons for the Panthers, scoring two goals and one assist with a plus-two and 28 penalty minutes.

Panthers goaltender Scott Clemmensen spent five seasons with the Devils, accruing a 32-19-5 record with a .910 save percentage and a 2.54 GAA.

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 25 as a Panther, moving him into a tie with Mike Van Ryn in 44th place all-time. 

Shawn Matthias' next goal will give him 21, moving him into a tie for 47th with Brett McLean.

Dmitry Kulikov's next assist will give him 51 for his career, moving him past Niklas Hagman into 38th place.  One more point for Kulikov will give him 63, moving him past Dave Gagner into 47th place.

Stephen Weiss is third all-time with 228 assists, one more moves him into a tie for second with defenseman Robert Svehla, three more move him into a tie for first with Olli Jokinen.

Florida's starting lineup of Weiss, Versteeg, Fleischmann, Campbell and Garrison are a combined plus-71 on the season. The rest of the team is a combined minus-72.

Team Leaders:

Goals:

Kris Versteeg - 13

Tomas Fleischmann - 12

Stephen Weiss -11

Assists:

Brian Campbell -22

Stephen Weiss - 19

Tomas Fleischmann, Kris Versteeg - 18

 

Points:

Kris Versteeg - 31

Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss -30

Plus/Minus:

Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss - plus-17

Kris Versteeg  - plus-16

 

For more on the Panthers, check out SB Nation's dedicated Florida Panthers site, http://www.litterboxcats.com/

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