SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -Brent Sutter didn't want to make a big deal out of his first NHL coaching victory. However, there was no downplaying the performance of Devils backup goalie Kevin Weekes.
"I don't get caught up in that as far as myself," Sutter said of his first victory. "The main thing is I want these players to have success."
Weekes had 20 of his 32 saves in the first period before New Jersey pulled away for a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.
"Weekesy played great and obviously gave us a chance," Sutter said. "I thought the second and third periods we played very well."
Weekes was playing for the first time since last January, when he was with the New York Rangers.
"It has been a long time," Weekes said. "But at the same time I'm thankful for every day. Be thankful for your health, and you work hard and hopefully good things will happen."
John Madden scored twice for the Devils, who opened the season with a 3-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday night. Andy Greene and Mike Mottau also scored for New Jersey.
"It feels good," Madden said. "It usually takes me a lot longer than that to get going."
Against the Panthers, it took the entire New Jersey team a while to get going. Sutter's message to his players during the first intermission also helped.
"He just told us we looked like little kids out there playing with men," Madden said, "and he told us to get our act in gear if we were going to salvage the game."
Cory Murphy scored in the first period for Florida, which had won its last three home openers. Tomas Vokoun, acquired from Nashville in the offseason, finished with 20 saves but had a second consecutive shaky outing.
Vokoun gave up five goals on 24 shots in Thursday night's 5-2 loss to the Rangers in the opener before allowing four goals against the Devils.
"He hasn't done the job, that's the bottom line," Florida coach Jacques Martin said. "But it's a long season and I think he's going to have a lot of games."
With the teams tied 1-1 in the second period, Madden gave New Jersey the lead with a power-play goal. Vokoun went behind the net to play the puck, but David Clarkson poked it away from him. Madden grabbed the puck and his pass to the front of the net went in off the skate of Panthers defenseman Branislaz Mezei.
Green added to the lead at 17:44 with another power-play goal. After Patrick Elias' slap shot went wide and bounced off the board, Green grabbed the rebound and fired a shot that went in off Vokoun.
"I played a long time and these things happen," Vokoun said. "Sometimes things aren't going to go your way. That's what you're judged on. Everything's not going to be a smooth ride, or going to be easy."
Madden opened the scoring 1:02 into the game when he redirected Arron Asham's pass on a 2-on-1.
Murphy tied the score at 9:13 with Florida on a two-man advantage when he one-timed Rostislav Olesz's cross-ice pass. It was the first NHL goal for Murphy, a 29-year-old rookie who spent the last six seasons in Europe.
"It's exciting," Murphy said. "It's a 29-year-old rookie. It would have been nicer to get the win, but I'll look back on it someday."
Mottau scored the only goal of the third period when his wrist shot from the point beat Vokoun through a screen.
The Devils are opening the season with nine consecutive road games while construction wraps up on their new arena in Newark. New Jersey is back at Florida on Thursday.
|John Madden (1) ASST: Arron Asham (1), Jay Pandolfo (1)|
1 - 0 NJD
|PPG - Cory Murphy (1) ASST: Stephen Weiss (1), Olli Jokinen (1)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - John Madden (2) ASST: David Clarkson (1)|
2 - 1 NJD
|PPG - Andy Greene (1) ASST: Patrik Elias (1)|
3 - 1 NJD
|Mike Mottau (1) ASST: Zach Parise (2)|
4 - 1 NJD
|Branislav Mezei Hooking against David Clarkson|
|Paul Martin Interference against Rob Globke|
|Johnny Oduya Holding against Olli Jokinen|
|Andy Greene Hooking against Jozef Stumpel|
|Radek Dvorak Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Stephen Weiss Slashing against Paul Martin|
|Jay Pandolfo Tripping against Nathan Horton|
|Brett McLean Hooking against John Madden|
|Rob Globke Too many men/ice - bench|
|Karel Rachunek Interference against Ville Peltonen|
|Nathan Horton Fighting (maj) against Arron Asham|
|Arron Asham Fighting (maj) against Nathan Horton|
|Bryan Allen Slashing against David Clarkson|