GAME: New Jersey Devils (26-19-6) at Florida Panthers (19-24-8).
TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
Martin Brodeur nearly stole two points for the New Jersey Devils with another strong performance in his last game. He now tries to take two points from a team he has dominated for nearly a decade as the Devils play the Florida Panthers.
The veteran netminder has led New Jersey's charge into playoff contention, compiling a 10-1-1 record with a 1.55 goals-against average and .946 save percentage in the last 12 games. Brodeur, though, was on the short end of a 1-0 overtime loss Wednesday to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Brodeur turned aside the first 32 shots he faced but was unable to stop Ruslan Fedotenko from scoring 2:22 into overtime for the winning goal.
"When he got the pass, he kind of looked right away to see if somebody was open. He never looked at me until he shot the puck," Brodeur said. "I felt like I was in good enough position to be able to turn my body just a little bit to react to a pass and he just snuck it right through me."
Brodeur now turns his attention to the Panthers, a team he has had little trouble with in his career. He is 3-0 with a 1.33 GAA, a shutout and a .938 save percentage against the Panthers this season. The goaltender carries a 13-game unbeaten streak at Florida into this game, posting 12 wins and a tie with a 1.52 GAA and a shutout since a 4-2 loss April 9, 1997.
Brodeur has won his last six starts against the Panthers. He has 21 wins, two losses and three ties against them since the start of the 1997-98 season. Lifetime, the netminder has 27 wins, eight losses and seven ties with a 1.91 GAA, four shutouts and .919 save percentage versus Florida.
Florida settled for a point Wednesday with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Panthers, who allowed the game-tying goal with 1:04 to play in regulation, have lost in overtime or a shootout eight times this season. Playing beyond regulation has produced just one win.
"It's very difficult when we lead and then give up a goal in the last minute," Florida defenseman Joel Kiatkowski said. "It's very frustrating, we've given away points like this in about nine games."
Florida has been outshot 94-65 in three losses to New Jersey this season and allowed five power-play goals. The Panthers have lost six straight games to the Devils since a 2-1 victory Oct. 22, 2003.
STANDINGS: Devils - 58 points, 3rd place, 10 PB, Atlantic Division. Panthers - 46 points, 4th place, 28 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Devils - Brian Gionta, 29 goals and 50 points; Scott Gomez, 28 assists; Colin White, 53 PIM. Panthers - Olli Jokinen, 23 goals, 30 assists and 53 points; Chris Gratton, 71 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Devils - Power play: 17.3 percent (51 for 295), 17th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.0 percent (187 for 228), 17th. Panthers - Power play: 14.6 percent (38 for 261), 27th. Penalty killing: 82.3 percent (270 for 328), 15th.
GOALTENDERS: Devils - Brodeur (24-15-4, 4 SO, 2.55 GAA); Scott Clemmensen (2-4-2, 0, 3.83). Panthers - Roberto Luongo (19-20-8, 2, 3.02); Jamie McLennan (0-4-0, 0, 3.09).
SEASON SERIES: Devils, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 3; Devils, 3-0. At East Rutherford, N.J., Gionta scored goals in the first two periods, and Gomez assisted on both for New Jersey. Luongo made 22 saves for the Panthers in the loss.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devils - 11-12-3 on the road; Panthers - 13-6-4 at home.