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Panthers rally from two-goal deficit to beat Devils

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Roberto Luongo didn't take great pleasure in getting the better of Cory Schneider for the third time this season.

Luongo beat his former Vancouver Canucks goaltending partner twice in October, when Luongo still was a member of the Canucks and they beat the New Jersey Devils. On Friday, he beat Schneider as a member of the Florida Panthers; the 5-3 loss dealt Schneider and his teammates a blow in their push for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I actually feel bad,"???Luongo said. "They need points more than us. But we're competing out there. I gave it my all, and so is he. Happy to get the win, for sure, but it's too bad for him."

Luongo finished with 28 saves and evened his record at 2-2-0 since rejoining the Panthers the day before the NHL???Trading Deadline.

Schneider gave up four goals on 21 shots as his post-Olympic break slump continued. Schneider, who the Devils acquired in a trade last June for the ninth pick in the 2013 NHL???Draft, has given up 15 goals in his past three outings after posting a 1.85 goals-against average with a .926 save percentage in 31 appearances before the break.

Schneider wasn't happy with his performance, particularly on the game-winning goal by Scottie Upshall at 10:00 of the third period on a shot that went between the goalie's legs.

"Those are the kind of goals that are happening to me right now, and it's not acceptable to let your teammates down and give up a goal like that late in the game to give them the lead,"???Schneider said. "Whatever I'm doing right now is just not working and I've got to find a way to get out of this.

"I'm really not happy with that last goal. It deflates the team. I never like goals to go under me or through me."

The Devils (29-25-13) were unable to hold a 3-1 lead and remained two points behind the Philadelphia Flyers, who own the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot in the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The loss also prevented Devils coach Pete DeBoer, who spent three seasons behind the Panthers bench, from recording his 200th career victory.

Brad Boyes keyed Florida's comeback by tying the game with a breakaway goal and setting up Upshall's game-winner. Brian Campbell and Quinton Howden also scored for Florida (25-35-7), which won for the third time in 11 games. Jonathan Huberdeau had two assists. Vincent Trocheck scored an empty-net goal with 32.5 seconds left for his first NHL goal.

"It's definitely a weight off my shoulders,"???Trocheck said. "Five games felt like an eternity to get that first one. It feels good, and hopefully they'll keep coming now. The puck was rolling a little bit and I'm thinking if I miss this it's an absolute joke. … Actually, legitimately it felt like it took five minutes for me to skate down the ice.''

Defenseman Bryce Salvador scored his first goal in more than four years for New Jersey, and Patrik Elias had a goal and an assist. Salvador's goal was his first since he beat Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers on March 10, 2010, and broke a goal-less streak of 172 regular-season games.

Jaromir Jagr added to his team-leading point total with his 22nd goal, and Damien Brunner had two assists.

"At this time of the year we're not happy not getting two points, and not putting them away when we had the chance," Salvador said. "We have to put this game behind us."

The injury-riddled Panthers played without six regulars:???Sean Bergenheim, Aleksander Barkov, Tomas Kopecky, Erik Gudbranson, Jesse Winchester. In addition, captain Ed Jovanovski was given the night off because Florida was playing on consecutive nights after losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Florida's lineup featured nine players 23 years old or younger.

"It's a dangerous time of year against teams like this,"?????????Schneider said. "They're young guys competing, they're playing some good hockey, they compete hard. I just have to come up with some saves and keep it at 3-1, 3-2, and things come out differently."

New Jersey led 3-2 in the third period before Boyes tied it at 4:22, beating Schneider with a quick shot through the five-hole after intercepting Mark Fayne's crossing pass in the high slot.

Boyes scoring on a breakaway shouldn't be considering surprising given that he's the NHL's all-time leader in shootout goals.

"I?????????actually had a fair amount of time,"?????????Boyes said. "I?????????saw some room. At the last second before I shot I?????????kind of changed my mind and went five-hole. He got a piece of it but had enough. It was good. It was obviously a play they probably would want back, but it's a big momentum switch for us."

Upshall put Florida ahead after Boyes got him the puck near the boards while falling to the ice. Upshall skated in and beat Schneider with a shot between the legs.

Florida trailed 3-1 and was being outshot 11-0 in the second period before Howden scored with 5:30 left to begin the Panthers' comeback. Schneider made a pad save on Scott Gomez's shot on a 2-on-1, but the puck went right back to Gomez, who fed it to the front of the net for the redirect.

It was the second goal in two games for Howden, a first-round pick in the 2010 NHL?????????Draft, who made his season debut Thursday against Tampa Bay. Howden failed to record a point in 18 games last season.

"They're making a push for the playoffs, so we knew that they were going to come hard,"?????????Howden said. "That was a big goal to kind of end the second, get our momentum back. We came in here, regrouped and got back out there and got it done."

Salvador got a fortunate bounce when he broke a 1-1 tie at 2:02 of the second period. After taking a centering pass from Elias, Salvador fired a wrist shot from the slot and Luongo made a pad save. But the puck bounced off Florida defenseman Dylan Olsen and went back past Luongo.

Elias made it 3-1 at 13:13 with a wrist shot from the left circle that went through the legs of teammate Dainius Zubrus and beat Luongo to the short side.

After Campbell opened the scoring at 9:59 of the first period on a rebound from the crease, Jagr tied the game 1-1 with a power-play goal at 18:45. The goal came with Thomas Fleischmann, playing in his 500th NHL?????????game, in the box for hooking. Jagr scored his team-high 22nd of the season by redirecting Brunner's shot from just below the right dot past Luongo.

Jagr had a breakaway in the first minute of the third period but shot wide after attempting a deke to the forehand.

The Devils won't have much time to think about the loss because they face Tampa Bay on Saturday.

Florida plays Vancouver at BB&T?????????Center on Sunday afternoon in another reunion game for Luongo, one that actually could mean more than facing Schneider.

"I???????????????????????????don't know if it'll mean more, but it's going to be weird for sure,"???????????????????????????Luongo said. "I was in that other locker room just a week and a half ago. It's the first time I've been traded during the season. I???????????????????????????don't know how I'm going to feel, but it's definitely going to feel weird."

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