New Jersey Devils vs. Florida Panthers Pick & Prediction MARCH 18th 2023

Stadium: BB&T Center Sunrise
Logo New Jersey Devils
Logo Florida Panthers

6.5o -138
-1.5 +200



Now to see what the Florida Panthers do for an encore.

After setting a franchise record with seven goals in the first period Thursday en route to a 9-5 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, the Panthers hope to sustain at least some of that roll Saturday when they host the New Jersey Devils in Sunrise, Fla.

Florida likely will not need a nine-goal outburst to beat the Devils, but dearly could use another victory in its push for a playoff spot, which has been gathering steam the last couple of weeks.

The Panthers (34-27-7, 75 points) are on a 4-0-1 run that has them within three points of a playoff spot with 14 games remaining. Florida has two games in hand on the New York Islanders, who hold the second wild-card position.

"We just want to keep it going," forward Carter Verhaeghe said. "We didn't like our game in the third (period) that much. It was a little tough to play there. We liked our game in the first period and we want to keep on going."

The Panthers can certainly build off that offensive outburst, with a few players on hot streaks. None are hotter than left winger Matthew Tkachuk, who has amassed three or more points in each of the past three games and center Aleksander Barkov, who has recorded eight points (1-7-8) in a five-game spree.

Tkachuk notched four points while Barkov netted two in the wild affair against the Canadiens.

"I've never seen anything like that in 25 years, that many goals" Florida coach Paul Maurice said. "There were more goals than chances to score, and that's a rarity. All I can say is that it completely affected the rest of the game for both teams."

The Devils (44-17-7, 95 points) are right behind the Carolina Hurricanes for top spot in the Metropolitan Division, but need to regroup from a pair of losses in consecutive home games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

New Jersey dropped a 4-3 shootout game to the Lightning on Thursday, two nights after losing 4-1.

"We got a point but it still feels like we got out short a little bit," said captain Nico Hischier, who collected a pair of assists Thursday.

The Devils on three occasions erased a one-goal deficit but could not summon a go-ahead goal, and have lost consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 23-28.

Not all the news is bad for the Devils, though. Forward Timo Meier scored twice, including the game-tying tally late in the third period to force overtime. Meier, who was acquired from the San Jose Sharks before the trade deadline, scored in his Devils' debut, but had been blanked in the five games that followed.

His first Thursday came on a rebound from a sharp angle after he passed to Hischier on the rush. Meier's second was a rocket of a short-side one-timer from the right circle. It was his team's first power-play goal in four games.

"Timo's just trying to fit in and sometimes it takes 10 or 15 games to figure out what fits," coach Lindy Ruff said. "We know he's a great shooter, so you got to get the puck on his stick. We got to get him in position to shoot."

--Field Level Media

New Jersey Devils
Florida Panthers

New Jersey Devils vs. Florida Panthers

Travis Zajac scored a power-play goal 56 seconds into overtime as the New Jersey Devils defeated the Florida Panthers 4-3 on Saturday in Sunrise, Fla., in the season finale for both teams.

Nathan Bastian, a 21-year-old who was New Jersey's second-round pick in 2016, scored twice for the Devils and now has three career goals. This was just his seventh NHL game.

Pavel Zacha scored New Jersey's other goal, and 22-year-old rookie Mackenzie Blackwood made 37 saves.

The Panthers got goals from Jonathan Huberdeau and Mike Hoffman in the final four minutes to send the game to overtime.

Aleksander Barkov also scored for the Panthers. For Barkov, it was his 35th goal of the season, and he set the franchise record with his 95th point. He broke the previous record of 94 set by Pavel Bure in the 1999-2000 season.

Huberdeau, who also had an assist, finished the season with 92 points. He and Barkov are the only Panthers teammates ever to have more than 90 points in the same season.

Hoffman's goal gave him 300 career points.

Roberto Luongo made 23 saves for the Panthers.

New Jersey opened the scoring with just 1:27 gone in the first period. Nico Hischier slid a perfect cross-ice pass to Bastian, whose one-timer found the right side of the net.

The Devils nearly went ahead 2-0 with 13:10 left in the first as Drew Stafford deflected in a high shot by Kenny Agostino. But the Panthers appealed, and the goal was wiped out due to a high-sticking violation.

Bastian scored his second of the night at 7:41 of the second period.

Barkov's goal at 11:58 of the second cut Florida's deficit to 2-1. The Panthers had a two-on-one breakaway, with Dadonov on Barkov's left. But Barkov kept the puck and unleased a low shot past sliding defenseman Steven Santini and past Blackwood.

New Jersey went up 3-1 when Zacha drove past Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, turned the corner and slipped the puck past Luongo with 5:31 left in the second.

Huberdeau's goal with 3:25 left in the third closed Florida's deficit to 3-2. Hoffman scored with 1:25 left in regulation to force overtime. A delay-of-game penalty on Huberdeau with one second remaining in regulation gave New Jersey the overtime power play.

--Field Level Media