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game recap

Defensemen as forwards power Panthers past Devils

Matheson, Pysyk combine for six points playing with Acciari

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Matheson buries rebound in front

FLA@NJD: Matheson kicks puck to stick, rips shot home

Mike Matheson finds the loose puck in front, kicks it to his stick and fires a shot past Louis Domingue for a 2-1 lead late in the 1st

  • 00:42 •

NEWARK, N.J. -- The fourth line for the Florida Panthers, which included defensemen Mike Matheson and Mark Pysyk, combined for eight points in a 5-3 win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Tuesday.

The Panthers used eight defensemen, playing Matheson and Pysyk between center Noel Acciari. It was the first time Matheson played forward this season.

"I don't know if I'd call it fourth (line)," Florida coach Joel Quenneville said. "They were better than that. They really did set the tone for our team, playing the right way, they cycle and keep it simple."

 

[WATCH: All Panthers vs. Devils highlights]

 

Matheson and Pysyk each had a goal and two assists, Acciari had a goal and an assist, and Sam Montembeault made 25 saves in his first start since Nov. 24 for the Panthers (30-20-6), who ended a three-game losing streak.

Jack Hughes, Kevin Rooney and Kyle Palmieri scored, and Louis Domingue made 28 saves for the Devils (20-25-10), who had a six-game point streak end.

Matheson scored on wrist shot from the slot to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead at 19:14 of the first period; Pysyk scored on a wrist shot to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead at 2:43 of the second period; and Acciari scored on a wrist shot from the slot to make it 5-2 at 5:38 of the second.

"They didn't look like defensemen out there to me," Palmieri said. "Obviously, that's their position, but they played well. They were hard on the pucks. The offense they generated was the way to you want to generate offense. They were cycling the puck, getting them up to the point men and they were going to the net hard."

Video: FLA@NJD: Pysyk shovels Matheson's feed past Domingue

Matheson was a healthy scratch in a 4-1 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday.

"I was excited when I got the word I'd be playing with Matheson and Acciari," Pysyk said. "It was the first game at forward for [Matheson] and we know what he can do. He skates well, is smart and has a lot of tools and Noel obviously has been having a good year."

Hughes scored a power-play goal on a wrist shot from the left circle to give the Devils a 1-0 lead at 3:15 of the first period. Brett Connolly tied it 1-1 from the right circle at 11:50.

Video: FLA@NJD: Hughes nets wrister from circle for PPG

Rooney pulled the Devils within 3-2 on a wrist shot from the slot at 4:17. Frank Vatrano gave the Panthers a 4-2 lead on a wrist shot from the right circle at 4:59. Palmieri made it 5-3 when he scored on a snap shot from the left circle for the Devils at 14:30.

"Those guys were fun to play with," Acciari said. "They were strong in the right areas, at the right time. Three of our goals were right the crease area. At this time of year, you're not going have all pretty goals. You're going to need those gritty goals. It was great to see [Matheson] come back in the lineup. Maybe it wasn't the position he was used to, but he had a heck of a game."

 

They said it

"The way that (fourth) line played, more lines have to follow that. They honestly just went in working hard, doing the right things, playing on the right side of the puck and not complicated. Shooting, winning battles. They spent a lot of time in the offensive zone and that's what we need. Some of our lines do too much sometimes, and sometimes playing the hard, straightforward game is the way to go." -- Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman

"We wanted to get [Matheson] in the lineup. We thought he does a lot of the same things [Pysyk] does. He's up in the play, has some speed, has the puck a lot and knows how to sustain and hang on to the puck in the offensive zone." -- Panthers coach Joel Quenneville

"The [fourth line] was simple. They got it in, they got it deep. They grind it out. You can't be surprised by that. You've got to be ready for them. You can't take them lightly. I'm not saying we did, but they are good players." -- Devils captain Andy Greene

 

Need to know

Matheson, who played 12:14, has six points (one goal, five assists) in his past five games. ... Devils defenseman Damon Severson had an assist to extend his point streak to seven games (two goals, six assists). He could equal the longest point streak by a Devils defenseman with a point in his next game (Brian Rafalski, eight games in 2006-07). ... Palmieri has eight points (five goals, three assists) in his past eight games.

 

What's next

Panthers: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, SNE, SNP, NBCSP, NHL.TV)

Devils: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, FS-D, NHL.TV)

Video: Pysyk, Matheson lead Panthers past Devils

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