Less than 24 hours after chalking up their third victory in four games, the Panthers pulled into New Jersey Wednesday to prepare for Thursday’s game against the Devils.
Having survived a late rally Tuesday by the Lightning to win 4-3 in a shootout, the Panthers are hoping to improve their game Thursday night at the Prudential Center.
The Devils (8-7-2) are 5-4-1 on home ice and will be rested having not played since Saturday when defeating the Capitals 6-5 in a shootout. Zach Parise leads the Devils with 12 goals this season and also with 20 points. Patrick Elias (seven goals) and Travis Zajac (11 assists) have 13 points.
With goalie Martin Brodeur out due to surgery on his bicep, the Devils are expected to go with Scott Clemmensen
, who made starts on consecutive nights last weekend and denied all three Capital shooters on Saturday, including Alex Ovechkin, in the shootout. The Devils also have Kevin Weekes.
Tomas Vokoun, who made 49 saves Tuesday in Tampa, is expected to be back in goal for the Panthers. Coach Peter DeBoer, who put the Panthers through a spirited practice Wednesday at the Prudential Center, said the Panthers will have to spend less time in their own end than they did against the Lightning and continue being physical.
“We had an up-tempo, physical practice today,” DeBoer said. “Tampa spent too much time in our zone (Tuesday) and we can’t afford that against the Devils. We have to win our battles in the corner and be able to knock the opponent off the puck.”
The Panthers could get another body back tonight in the form of forward Kamil Kreps, who hasn’t played since suffering a concussion Nov. 6 against the Kings. For the third consecutive day, Kreps skated Wednesday in New Jersey.
After skating for approximately 25 minutes Monday, Kreps has skated hard the past two days. “I felt good,” he said. “I’m trying to get my conditioning back. I think I’m almost ready.”
Kreps played a few shifts after he suffered the concussion in Los Angeles. “Then I started to feel really bad sick…headache and dizzy,” he said. “It’s an injury you don’t want to rush. It just takes time and we’re going day by day.”NOTES
The Panthers have won only one of their last six games in New Jersey, and eight of 30… Vokoun is 4-3-1 lifetime against the Devils with a 2.54 goals against… The Panthers leave New Jersey and play Friday evening against the Bruins, who the Panthers have beaten the last four times they’ve played at the TD Banknorth Garden…