[29-45-8]
3
6
03/31/2014
FINAL
[35-29-18]
123T
FLA1203
22SHOTS32
29FACEOFFS26
28HITS14
8PIM10
0/5PP1/4
10GIVEAWAYS6
6TAKEAWAYS9
5BLOCKED SHOTS14
     

Crucial points on the line for Devils against Panthers

Monday, 03.31.2014 / 10:55 AM

PANTHERS (27-40-8) at DEVILS (31-28-15)

TV: RDS2, NBCSN

Last 10: Florida 3-6-1; New Jersey 4-4-2

Season series: The New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers have split two games this season. Florida won the most-recent game, 5-3, on March 14 at BB&T Center. This will be their third and final game of the season.

Big story: With five points separating them from the Eastern Conference's final wild-card spot and eight games remaining on the schedule, whatever hope New Jersey has of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs may require running the table to close out the season, or at least coming close.

Team Scope:

Panthers: The Florida Panthers, 20 points back of the final wild-card spot and with seven games remaining, have been eliminated from the playoff chase. Despite being eliminated, however, the Panthers will still make their presence felt in the final two weeks of the season. Florida's remaining schedule includes games against the Devils, Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets, all teams fighting to reach or remain in playoff position.

If the Panthers are looking to play the role of spoiler, however, they'll need to turn a corner quickly. Florida is 1-5-0 in its past six games, with the lone victory coming in a shootout against the Ottawa Senators on March 25. In their most-recent game, the Panthers lost to the Montreal Canadiens, 4-1.

After visiting the Devils, Florida will visit the New York Islanders before closing out the season with a five-game homestand.

Devils: Few teams may know the value of the shootout in the modern NHL quite like the Devils. New Jersey is the only team in the League that is winless in shootouts this season despite participating in 10 of them. With the Devils five points out of a playoff spot, barring an impressive finish to the season those 10 extra points left on the table may well be the reason the Devils spend the spring sitting at home.

In their most-recent game, the Devils lost yet another shootout, this time to the Islanders on Saturday night. They've scored once in 30 attempts this season.

"We're at the point we can pretty much try everything because what we're doing is not working," forward Damien Brunner said. "Maybe we have to start throwing some jokes around on the bench. It can't get any worse."

If the Devils do miss the postseason, it will be the first time they've failed to qualify for the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 1987, a year before the team qualified for the postseason for the first time since moving to New Jersey.

Who's hot: Devils forward Adam Henrique has two goals and three assists in the past five games.

Injury report: Panthers forwards Jonathan Huberdeau (upper body), Tomas Kopecky (concussion) and Aleksander Barkov (knee) are all out, as are defensemen Tom Gilbert (sports hernia) and Alex Petrovic (upper body) and goalie Roberto Luongo (upper body). … Devils defenseman Jon Merrill and forward Stephen Gionta were injured in the third period Saturday and won't play Monday. Defensemen Bryce Salvador (groin) and Anton Volchenkov (lower body) and forward Tim Sestito (concussion) are also out.

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