Devils beat Panthers 4-2 to end six-game skid
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Jesper Bratt scored twice and Yegor Sharangovich had the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period as the New Jersey Devils beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 Wednesday night to snap a six-game skid.
Tomas Tatar added an empty-netter and Mackenzie Blackwood finished with 34 saves for the Devils, who were 0-5-1 since a win at home against Chicago on Dec. 6.
“It feels great to win, the boys have been playing hard and deserved a better result in the games we played,” said Blackwood, who was making his first start since Nov. 3 due to a knee injury. “It gets a little difficult when you pile up a couple losses in a row. Sometimes guys grip their stick a little too tight, panic. We did a good job playing the right way.”
Eric Staal and Eetu Luostarinen had goals for Florida, which has lost two straight and five of seven. Sergei Bobrovsky finished with 29 saves.
Bratt tied the score 2-2 with his second of the night and 12th of the season at 2:44 of the third.
Sharangovich put the Devils ahead for the first time in the game at 10:10 as he deflected a shot from Jonas Siegenthaler for his ninth.
Tatar capped it with his empty-netter with 39.1 seconds remaining. It was his eighth.
“We needed a win,” New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said. “We played several pretty good games inside of this and couldn’t find the back of the net. To come out, get a couple goals in the third … it was important.”
Staal gave Florida a 1-0 lead at 4:45 of the first period with his third of the season and second goal in two games.
Bratt tied it at 7:01, just 5 seconds into New Jersey’s first power-play chance.
Luostarinen gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead on a power play at with 3:48 left in the second period.
“We had to finish some plays around their net for sure,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “We did not move the puck the way we wanted to but they do not give you much. We actually got more than that usually give in a game like that.”
NOTES: The Panthers had C Anton Lundell back in the lineup after he missed the past nine games due to both an illness and upper-body injury. Lundell left Florida’s game in Seattle on Dec. 3 in the first period with the undisclosed injury. … Florida was without captain Aleksander Barkov for the second consecutive game after he sustained an apparent knee injury Saturday against the Devils. Barkov skated on Wednesday morning and may return next week. … New Jersey assistant coach Andrew Brunette was saluted by the Panthers on the video board during a timeout in the first period. Brunette was an assistant for two seasons and took over for Joel Quenneville as Florida’s interim head coach eight games into last season. The Panthers won the Presidents’ Trophy under Brunette last season.
Devils: Host Boston on Friday night.
Panthers: At the New York Islanders on Friday night.
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