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Devils visit Panthers seeking third straight win

by Mike G. Morreale

DEVILS (29-24-13) at PANTHERS (24-35-7)


Last 10: New Jersey 6-3-1; Florida 2-8-0

Season series: This is the second of three games between the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers. The Devils won the first Jan. 11 at Prudential Center when Marek Zidlicky snapped in a one-timer off a feed from Jaromir Jagr with 2.1 seconds left in overtime for a 2-1 victory. The teams will play again in New Jersey on March 31.

Big story: Former Vancouver Canucks teammates Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo will go head-to-head in goal for the third time this season. Prior to his trade to the Panthers on March 4, Luongo twice beat Schneider as a member of the Canucks. He made 21 saves in a 3-2 overtime victory Oct. 8 in Vancouver and 28 saves in a 3-2 shootout win Oct. 24 in New Jersey.

Luongo is 1-2-0 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in three games since joining the Panthers. Schneider is 12-13-9 with a 2.07 GAA and .918 save percentage in 32 games in his first season with the Devils, who acquired him at the 2013 NHL Draft.

Team Scope:

Panthers: This is the fifth game in eight days for Florida, which is 1-3-0 in its past four. After shutting out the Buffalo Sabres on March 7 in Luongo's return, the Panthers have lost three in a row; they've dropped 11 of 14 overall (3-11-0). Florida has scored 10 goals in the past five games.

The Panthers lost 5-4 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. The Lightning built a 5-2 lead before Florida struck for two goals by Scottie Upshall and Brandon Pirri over the final 1:05 of the third period.

'We didn't quit,'' coach Peter Horachek said. ''We just kept pushing. We kept getting some great chances and great looks in the second period, and we had some chances in the third period as well.''

Goalie Dan Ellis, who was acquired from the Dallas Stars in exchange for Tim Thomas on March 5, made 23 saves in his debut with his new team.

Devils: The Devils have scored four or more goals in five of their seven games since Feb. 27 and are 5-2-0 over that stretch. They'll look to win three straight games for the first time since Nov. 16-21, when they had victories against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.

"We've been talking about that for a while, that we need to string some wins together," coach Peter DeBoer said. "Whether it's three in a row or four out of five or seven out of nine, we've just got to keep climbing here and putting points in the bank. The reality is, we're not going to win every game the rest of the season. You can't get too high or too low on the results as long as we're consistently putting points in the bank."

New Jersey's penalty-killing unit denied the Philadelphia Flyers on six power-play chances Tuesday in a 2-1 win and has allowed one power-play goal in 21 shorthanded situations over the past six road games. Schneider will be making his first start since March 7, when he lost his second straight game as he allowed a career-high seven goals against the Detroit Red Wings.

Who's hot: Panthers center Nick Bjugstad has two goals and nine points in the past nine games. … Devils center Travis Zajac has three goals and five points in the past four games. Jagr is on a four-game point streak, during which he has two goals and five points.

Injury report: The Panthers are without defenseman Erik Gudbranson (lower body) and forwards Jesse Winchester (lower body), Aleksander Barkov (lower body) and Tomas Kopecky (upper body). Forward Sean Bergenheim (lower body) is questionable. ... The Devils report no injuries.

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