NEWARK, N.J. — After giving up 17 goals while losing four straight, the New Jersey Devils used a strong defensive effort to end their first skid of the season.
Cory Schneider stopped 32 shots to help the Devils beat the Florida Panthers 2-1 Saturday night.
“You see around the league, scoring is going down,” Schneider said. “I think it’s that time of year — you’re playing more games so (there is) a little less energy to score goals. Teams are getting their systems down, guys are in a groove and defending better, and (they) have (their) goalie make a few saves. That’s the difference in this league.”
Damon Severson and Kyle Palmieri scored for New Jersey, which had not lost consecutive games while starting the season 10-2-0 but was 0-2-2 in its last four.
“It was huge,” Palmieri said of the win. “I think our team was getting a little down on ourselves. We weren’t getting the results we wanted. This is a good way to propel us.”
While the Devils left feeling good about themselves, the Panthers are searching for answers. Florida has lost seven of 10. James Reimer made 19 stops, and Nick Bjugstad scored Florida’s lone goal.
“I’m really disappointed,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “I’m happy with our effort and execution. I thought we deserved better.”
Florida finished with a 33-21 advantage in shots, and the loudest reaction from the crowd came after defenseman Steven Santini drove Florida center Aleksander Barkov into the Panthers’ bench late in the second period.
“He was in their face,” Devils defenseman Andy Greene said of Santini. “It was good to see. It gave us some energy.”
Severson put New Jersey in front 5:59 into the game with his second goal of the season. Jimmy Hayes won an offensive zone faceoff back to Severson, who fired a wrist shot past a screened Reimer.
“I guess you get a bit lucky,” Severson said. “I think it was going a little bit wide but just got a good bounce. (I’ll) take the goal, for sure.”
Schneider made a sprawling stop on Jonathan Huberdeau during the first of three power plays late in the first for the Panthers.
While Florida was unable to to take advantage of its power play, the Devils used a two-man advantage early in the second to extend their lead.
With Connor Brickley (interference) and Micheal Haley (tripping) each serving two-minute minors, Palmieri converted a slap shot from the left circle.
“It felt good to contribute,” he said.
New Jersey went 1 for 2 on the man advantage, and killed all four Florida power plays.
The Panthers cut the lead in half on Nick Bjugstad’s third goal of the season at 7:20 of the second. Florida had a golden chance to tie the game 3:33 later but Schneider stopped Colton Sceviour from in close.
“I felt pretty good,” Schneider said. “Maybe it wasn’t as settled and efficient in the crease as I usually am, but I felt my battle level and … finding the puck was better tonight.”
That was as close as Florida would get, despite outshooting New Jersey 17-4 in the third.
“With the amount of skill and amount of guys who can put the puck in the back of the net, I feel pretty confident most night we’re going to bury (more) chances than we did tonight,” Panthers center Vincent Trocheck said.
NOTES: Devils C Travis Zajac and C Michael McLeod participated in the morning skate at Prudential Center. Zajac underwent surgery in August to repair a torn pectoral muscle, and McLeod tore the meniscus in his left knee in September. Coach John Hynes told reporters after the morning skate Zajac is “on the verge of playing in games,” and suggested the veteran could return to the lineup as soon as next week. Hynes noted he has to speak to general manager Ray Shero about whether New Jersey will return McLeod to Mississauga of the Ontario Hockey League. … G Antti Niemi and D Alex Petrovic were scratched by Florida, while C Jared McCann missed his third straight game with a lower body injury. … New Jersey scratched D Dalton Prout and D Ben Lovejoy, and C Pavel Zacha. … The Devils wore camouflage warmup jerseys as part of the team’s Military Appreciation Night. According to the Devils, the jerseys will be autographed “and auctioned” on the team’s website for a “non-profit organization that builds and donates custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 veterans.”
Panthers: Host Dallas on Tuesday night.
Devils: Visit Chicago on Sunday night.
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