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GAME STORY: Panthers 5, Devils 3

Flurry of Panthers goals late in the first and early in the second result in a 5-3 setback for the host Devils

by Marc Ciampa / NewJerseyDevils.com

NEWARK, NJ - The New Jersey Devils scored first but the Florida Panthers scored often late in the first period and early in the second to storm in front and ended up holding their lead with a 5-3 win on Tuesday night. 

Jack Hughes, Kyle Palmieri and Kevin Rooney tallied for the Devils, who dropped their first game since the all-star break and had their six-game points streak snapped. 

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New Jersey plays at home again on Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings. The game can be seen on MSG+ and heard on the Devils Hockey Network, including right here at NewJerseyDevils.com. Puck drop is 7:08 p.m. ET.

"They did a really good job against us tonight. They just kept it simple and put pucks on net and we were soft in our net front so they took advantage," said Devils interim head coach Alain Nasreddine after the game. "They went to the hard areas and for us, we were a no-show at the net front. That's where the puck's going to go."

The Devils went to the power play 2:27 into the game after the Panthers were caught with too many men on the ice and 48 seconds into the man advantage, New Jersey connected for th game's first goal. Jack Hughes wristed a shot from the left circle past Panthers netminder Samuel Montembault to put the Devils on the board.

After Florida killed off their second penalty of the night, Brett Connolly rifled a wrist shot from the right circle past Domingue five-hole to knot the game up at 1-1 with 8:10 to play. 

Florida moved in front with 45 seconds left in the opening frame. Mike Matheson picked up the puck in the slot and kicked it to his stick before rifling a shot past Louis Domingue to move the Devils up by a goal. 

"We were having trouble getting out of our zone. We had to defend a little harder. Going into the third, we had a chance to come back. Had some good looks. Passed up a couple opportunities," stated Kyle Palmieri. "They have a good offensive team but the best way to defend that is play in their end. There's not a whole lot of teams in the NHL that like to play in their end. "

After one, shots on goal were 8-7 for Florida.

The goals came fast and furious to start the second. Panthers extended their lead to 3-1 2:35 into the middle frame when Matheson spun around the net and threw it in front to Mark Pysyk who banged it in from the top of the crease.

Less than two minutes later, Joey Anderson made a great backhand pass from the end boards to Kevin Rooney in front who quickly snapped a shot from the slot.

Florida scored 42 seconds later to regain their two-goal lead and make it 4-2 and 39 seconds after that, scored again to take a 5-2 lead. Frank Vatrano's shot from the right circle beat Domingue through traffic and then Noel Acciari potted one 39 seconds later to move the Panthers in front by three.

"I think we needed to be a bit more engaged. We were at times but other times we were just playing. Not necessarily bad, not good. Just need more emotion and energy from everyone tonight," noted Devils captain Andy Greene. 

With 5:30 to play in the second, Palmieri got in behind the Panthers defense and rifled a shot from the slot, making it a two-goal game.

Palmieri added that he did feel that his line, with Hughes and Jesper Bratt, showed some strides in their fourth game together. 

"Tonight we had some great looks. If you look back at the last couple games, it was a lot off the rush but a lot one and done. Tonight we got the cycle going and I think we did a good job moving our feet and being tough to defend in that way."

Devils nearly scored again 30 seconds later after Hughes made a great move, using his speed through the neutral zone then splitting the Panthers defense but his deke attempt was denied by Montembault. 

After 40 minutes, shots on goal were 24-15 for Florida. 

In the third, the Devils made a push and outshot the Panthers 13-9 but neither team would score. 

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