|@ Devils (14-10-3)||2||1||1||4|
This game started off with a bang, but not exactly in the way the Panthers wanted. Lee Stempniak scored 26 seconds into the period to give the Devils the lead. This domination didn’t last though, as the next five minutes were fairly even between both teams. Unsurprisingly, the Panthers got the first penalty of the game. Vincent Trocheck was called for interference and the Panthers had yet another penalty to kill. The Cats killed the call easily to keep the Devils’ lead to one goal. The back and forth play continued, as Luongo and Schneider each had to make some quick saves. However, this didn’t last for too long as Kyle Palmieri scored a wrister with 7:05 left in the period. These are not the Panthers that we have seen in the first four games of this road trip. Jordin Tootoo was penalized for high sticking with five minutes left in the period, so the Panthers got their first power play of the game. The Devils easily killed the penalty, though. The Panthers picked up the pace a bit in the last minute of play but to no avail. In an altercation by Schneider’s net, Brandon Pirri and Damon Severson were penalized for roughing. At the end of the period, the Devils led the Panthers 2-0. The Devils also edged out the Panthers in shots on goal 10-7. The Panthers have not played this poorly in quite some time. They might be tired, but it is no excuse for their gameplay. This is a crucial game for the Cats and they need to up their defensive and offensive game in order to compete tonight.
Now, it was the Panthers’ turn to impress in the first minute of the period. Aaron Ekblad scored 45 seconds to cut the Devils’ lead to 1. The goal was assisted by Jaromir Jagr and Aleksander Barkov. The Cats looked stronger in the first few minutes of the second period than they did in the whole first. Eric Gelinas was sent to the box for interference, but Dave Bolland was called for embellishment too, so the teams went back to 4-on-4 play. Ekblad’s goal was scored on the 4-on-4, but the Panthers were not nearly as lucky this time around. In fact, Adam Henrique was able to score to sway the momentum back in the Devils’ favor. The Panthers would be shorthanded once again after Jussi Jokinen was penalized for cross checking. Thankfully, some blocked shots allowed the Panthers to kill the penalty. Afterward, Aleksander Barkov had a great opportunity to score but Schneider was able to get ahold of the puck. Some hard work finally paid off for that line though, as Jonathan Huberdeau was able to score on a rebound. The goal was assisted by Jaromir Jagr and Aaron Ekblad. Jagr, Barkov, and Huberdeau did not start the game together, and Huberdeau had actually been on the second line for the past few games. Gerard Gallant must have switched the lines around in order to generate some offense and clearly, it was a good decision. With two minutes left in the period, Jonathan Huberdeau was taken down on a breakaway and therefore awarded a penalty shot, but he was unable to score. With just 20 seconds left in the period, yet another 4-0n-4 sequence ensued. Erik Gudbranson and Kyle Palmieri were the victims of the call. At the end of the period, the Devils led 3-2. The Panthers were able to top the Devils in shots on goal this period 19-15. The Panthers played a much better game in the second, but it was still not good enough. The defense was subpar and the offense was simply not there for most of the period. The Panthers had spurts of energy but in order to win, the offense needs to be there for the full 20 minutes. The two goals were great and much needed, but the Panthers are still trailing at the end of the second.
The Panthers came out with energy in the final frame. They really want to win this game. There were numerous almost-goals even within the first minute. The Devils were not able to get a shot on goal in the last nine minutes of the second period or the first six minutes of the third but when they finally did, they scored. Mike Cammalleri got the puck past Luongo to put the Devils up by two goals again. Shortly after, the Panthers got a power play chance when David Schlemko hit the puck out of play and was awarded a delay of game penalty. The Panthers could not capitalize, but it was not for lack of trying. The Panthers were certainly shooting the puck but most of the time, they were not hitting the net. With 5 minutes left in the game, things were looking pretty bleak for the Panthers. They seemed to be losing hope and it showed in their gameplay. With 3 minutes left, Luongo left the net, making way for an extra Panther attacker. Jussi Jokinen prevented any empty net goals from occurring, but that was not enough to secure the Panthers the win. The Devils won 4-2. The poor play in the first period cost the Panthers the game and their win streak.
The success that the Panthers did have in this game was dependent mostly on four players: Aaron Ekblad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, and Jaromir Jagr. Aaron Ekblad opened up the scoring for the Cats and also assisted the Huberdeau goal. Jonathan Huberdeau scored the second goal of the game and was responsible for a huge portion of the offense in the game. Aleksander Barkov contributed to this offense as well and he assisted the Ekblad goal. He was also extremely strong in the face-off circle. Then finally, Jaromir Jagr played well with his linemates and was awarded primary assists on both the Ekblad goal and the Huberdeau goal for his hard work. He definitely showed the Devils what they were missing.
The Panthers will head home on Tuesday, December 8th to face the Ottawa Senators at 7:30 pm ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.