SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -Scott Clemmensen got the best of his former team - again.
Clemmensen stopped 42 shots against his former New Jersey teammates, and Radek Dvorak and Nathan Horton scored in the third period to help the Florida Panthers beat the Devils 3-2 on Thursday night.
Michael Frolik added a goal for the Panthers, who won for the second time in eight games.
Patrik Elias and David Clarkson scored for the Devils in their final road game of the regular season. Coming off the 600th win of his NHL career on Tuesday night in Atlanta, Martin Brodeur made 15 saves.
Clemmensen, who signed a three-year contract with the Panthers in July, faced the Devils for the second time this season. He stopped 26 shots in a 4-2 Florida win in New Jersey on Dec. 11.
"It's kind of like playing your older or younger brother," Clemmensen said. "You have a lot of respect for them. I think they've got great players. I've got the utmost respect for all of them. You always want to play well against them because you think they're such great players and you want them to think the same thing about you.
"It's always good but it doesn't mean you want to stick it to them or anything like that. You always want to put your best foot forward and I was fortunate to get two wins against them this year."
The Devils, who will be making their 13th consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs, could have clinched the Atlantic Division, but needed both a win over Florida and a Pittsburgh regulation loss to the New York Islanders to claim the title.
The Penguins, who beat the Islanders 7-3, and the Devils each have 99 points with two games left.
"New Jersey's got a great club, they've got an opportunity to make a good run at the Cup so I'm not too worried about them," Clemmensen said. "They'll be just fine. They've got all the tools, all the components regardless of what happens."
The Panthers were already eliminated from playoff contention.
"We only have a couple games left," Horton said. "We're trying to finish strong. It's tough to come to the rink. We're not where we want to be. It's tough playing these games, but that's our job."
Dvorak gave the Panthers their first lead of the night with his goal at 1:14 of the third period. Set up by Rostislav Olesz's pass from behind the net, Dvorak scored on a shot from the slot. Horton then stretched Florida's lead to 3-1 at 12:23 in the third when he scored on a wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle.
Clarkson closed the gap to 3-2 at 14:46 of the third, but it wasn't enough to complete the comeback.
"We had more chances than we ever did, from every line," New Jersey coach Jacques Lemaire said. "Their goalie was really good and that's the reason why they won. I don't think we played bad here."
Florida tied it at 1 with Frolik's goal at 6:03 in the second period. Frolik took a cross-ice pass from Horton and beat Brodeur with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle. It was the 20th goal of the season for Frolik.
Elias opened the scoring 59 seconds into the second. Clemmensen stopped the intial shot with his leg pad and a second chance then went off the crossbar. That's when Elias tipped in the puck to give New Jersey at 1-0 lead.
NOTES: Bryan Allen (ribs) returned to the ice for Florida after missing two games. ... Florida will wrap up its season with a home-and-home series against Tampa Bay this weekend. New Jersey will return to home ice for games against the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres. ... Florida signed G Marc Cheverie to an entry-level contract.
|Patrik Elias (17) ASST: Dainius Zubrus (17), Zach Parise (41)|
1 - 0 NJD
|Michael Frolik (20) ASST: Nathan Horton (35), Keith Ballard (19)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Radek Dvorak (14) ASST: Rostislav Olesz (15), Shawn Matthias (8)|
2 - 1 FLA
|Nathan Horton (19) ASST: Jason Garrison (6), Michael Frolik (22)|
3 - 1 FLA
|David Clarkson (11) ASST: Mike Mottau (15), Paul Martin (6)|
3 - 2 FLA
|Travis Zajac Hi-sticking against Keith Ballard|
|Keith Ballard Slashing against Patrik Elias|
|David Clarkson Fighting (maj) against Nick Tarnasky|
|Nick Tarnasky Fighting (maj) against David Clarkson|
|Nathan Horton Hooking against Ilya Kovalchuk|