SUNRISE (AP) — Aleksander Barkov scored 2:48 into overtime, and the Florida Panthers topped the New Jersey Devils 2-1 on Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.
Barkov took a pass from Michael Matheson and one-timed the winner past Cory Schneider. Matheson knocked New Jersey’s Damon Severson off the puck behind the net, then found Barkov unmarked in the right circle.
Roberto Luongo stopped 23 shots for Florida, including two huge saves in the final minutes of regulation. Schneider stopped 32 shots for the Devils, including all 16 he faced in the third period.
P.A. Parenteau, claimed off waivers from the New York Islanders earlier this week, scored for the Devils. Jonathan Marchessault got the scoring for the night started for Florida.
And without Luongo’s heroics late, Panthers fans wouldn’t have gone home happy.
He stopped Taylor Hall’s one-timer from the low slot as a mass of bodies swarmed his crease, then got his glove out just far enough to grab Andy Greene’s slap shot from the left point with 29.9 seconds remaining.
The Devils went to the Stanley Cup final in 2012 and haven’t seen the postseason since, in a rebuilding place where Florida seemed to be perpetually stuck until the last couple seasons. The Panthers won the Atlantic Division last season and — even without injured forwards Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau to start the season — think they have enough to contend for a title.
“We start a new era of the Florida Panthers this year,” Panthers owner Vincent Viola said before the game. “You’ll see new uniforms on the team, you’re going to see a whole bunch of new faces on the ice … and there’s only one purpose and one mission — to win the Stanley Cup.”
The first two goals of the night bounced off Devils skaters.
Florida opened the scoring midway through the first when Marchessault’s shot was saved by Schneider, who actually knocked the puck into defenseman Ben Lovejoy and watched it ricochet into the net. New Jersey tied it in the final minute of the period, when Yohann Auvitu’s shot from the right point was deflected by a leaping Parenteau.
NOTES: The Panthers wore No. 16 jerseys with “Fernandez” on the back for warmups, a tribute to Jose Fernandez — the Miami Marlins ace pitcher who died in a boating accident off Miami Beach last month. The team also presented a $35,000 check to his foundation in a pregame ceremony. … It was Jaromir Jagr’s 23rd NHL opening night. … Devils center Travis Zajac played in his 700th regular-season game. … The Panthers’ Atlantic title banner from last season hangs from the rafters on the same end of the rink as their bench.
Devils: Visit Tampa Bay on Saturday.
Panthers: Host Detroit on Saturday.
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