Offense hard to come by for Panthers in loss to Devils

The emotional seesaw that is the Panthers’ 2017-18 season continues. Twenty-four hours removed from a 2-1 win over the Sabres, the they fell 2-1 to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday to cap off a three-game road-trip. 

Kyle Palmieri scored the eventual game-winning goal for the Devils with a slap-shot on the power play 4:58 into the second period to end a four-game losing streak and hand the Panthers their six loss in the last seven games.

Nick Bjugstad’s third goal of the season was the lone marker on the night for the Panthers in the game. He picked up a rebound off a point shot and put it past a sprawled-out Cory Schneider, who made 32 saves on 33 shots faced.

“You gotta find ways to score in these types of games,” said Bjugstad. We knew [Schneider] was gonna be good in net, we knew what kind of team they had. We just gotta find ways to score.”

It was Bjugstad’s first goal since the third game of the season on October 12th against the St. Louis Blues.

The Devils opened the scoring just a tick under six minutes into the first period when Damon Severson’s point shot deflected off the skate of Keith Yandle and past goaltender James Reimer.

Reimer, starting the second game of the back-to-back set, stopped 19 of the Devils’ 21 shots.

“I thought the guys played great,” said Reimer. “We had our chances, a couple posts, a couple crossbars. It was kind of a lucky break that won it.”

“I’m really happy with the way we’ve played the last two games, we’ve played really well.”

It was the fewest shots allowed by the Panthers this season, and different from Friday night, most of them came from inside the dots and down low.

The Devils finished with 15 scoring chances at 5v5 while the Panthers, who went 0-for-4 on the power play, managed 11 scoring chances.

“With our skill, with the amount of guys that can put the puck in the back of the net, I’m pretty confident that on most nights we’re gonna bury on the chances that we got tonight.”

Vincent Trocheck’s four-game goal streak came to an end as the Panthers’ first and second lines were silenced in what was a tight matchup from start to finish.

“We’ve played, in my mind, six great periods the last two games,” said head coach Bob Boughner. “There wasn’t too many holes in our game tonight. I thought we controlled the play for the most part.”

Derek MacKenzie left the game after suffering an apparent lower-body injury during his third shift of the first period. He did not return, forcing the Panthers to dig deep up front.

The Panthers will travel home to face the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night before heading back out on the road for three games, beginning Thursday against the San Jose Sharks.

Game notes:

  • Jared McCann missed his his third straight game with an undisclosed injury.
  • Alex Petrovic sat out as a healthy scratch for the fifth time this season and for the second straight game.
  • Vincent Trocheck logged a regular season career-high 26:33 of ice time.
  • Dryden Hunt skated 13:58 on the second line with Trocheck and Radim Vrbata.
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