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Devils try to keep slim hopes alive against Panthers

by Mike G. Morreale

PANTHERS (13-24-6) at DEVILS (16-17-10)


Last 10: Florida 4-6-0; New Jersey 1-6-3

Season series: This is the third of three meetings with the team each winning once so far. The Florida Panthers evened the series with a 3-2 overtime victory on March 31 when Dmitry Kulikov scored his first goal of the season 1:43 into the extra session. Goalie Jacob Markstrom made 24 saves in the win.

Big story: The New Jersey Devils' 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday kept alive the team's slim playoff hopes. The Devils had been 0-6-4 in 10 games entering Thursday's contest, a stretch that saw them drop from seventh to 12th in the Eastern Conference. The win puts them in 11th, eight points behind the eighth-place New York Rangers with five games remaining. That includes a game against the Rangers on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, plus another date at MSG on the final day of the regular season.

Team Scope:

Panthers: The Panthers play the third of their four-game road trip after dropping a 5-2 decision to the New York Islanders on Tuesday and a 6-1 decision to the New York Rangers on Thursday. Florida, which enters Saturday's game on a four-game losing streak, closes out the trip on Sunday against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. The Panthers yielded a pair of power-play goals in the opening nine minutes of Thursday's loss to the Rangers before rookie Jonathan Huberdeau scored his 14th of the season 15:17 into the opening period.

Devils: New Jersey snapped its 10-game winless streak behind 23 saves by Martin Brodeur in a 3-0 victory over the Flyers on Thursday at Wells Fargo Center. Ryan Carter scored in the second period and Matt D'Agostini and Adam Henrique (empty net) connected in the third as the Devils improved to 13-1-4 when scoring the first goal of the game. Martin Brodeur was making his 13th straight start (3-6-4) in goal since returning from a pinched nerve in his neck/upper back on March 21 at Carolina.

Who's hot: Florida left wing Tomas Fleischmann, who leads the team with 21 assists and 30 points, has four goals and 13 points in the past 15 games.

Injury report: Ilya Kovalchuk (shoulder) is questionable and Bryce Salvador (wrist) is doubtful for New Jersey. … Florida is without Jose Theodore (groin), Ed Jovanovski (hip), Eric Selleck (concussion), Kris Versteeg (knee), Stephen Weiss (wrist) and Sean Bergenheim (groin).

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