NEWARK (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The New Jersey Devils have been showing signs of life lately, something their opponent on Monday would love to do as well.
The Devils are starting to pull out of a slump that consumed a good portion of December and look to add another victory when they host the Florida Panthers.
The Devils, who lost 2-1 in overtime to visiting Edmonton on Saturday while playing with five healthy defensemen most of the night, are 3-2-1 since winning just once in a 10-game span but 0-1-1 on their three-game homestand.
New Jersey has produced 15 goals in its last eight games and ranked 27th in the league in scoring through Saturday – one spot ahead of Florida – after registering 20 shots versus Edmonton.
“I think the chances are there,” left wing Taylor Hall told reporters Saturday. “We’ve got to find a way to get out of our own end.”
The Panthers finished 1-2-0 on their three-game homestand after being blanked 4-0 by Boston on Saturday with two of their top three centers – Aleksander Barkov and Nick Bjugstad – sidelined with lower-body injuries.
Barkov, who leads the team in scoring with 27 points, and Bjugstad both are expected to miss about two more weeks.
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ABOUT THE PANTHERS (17-16-8): James Reimer started for the second straight game Saturday in place of injured veteran Roberto Luongo (upper body), who could return Monday.
The biggest problem is at the other end of the ice, where Florida has recorded just 14 goals over its last eight games and has been stifled on 11 power-play opportunities in its past three contests.
Jonathan Marchessault (12) and Vincent Trocheck (11) are the only players to have reached double digits in goals thus far, while only four have recorded at least 20 points – including the 44-year-old Jaromir Jagr (25), who is seven shy of 1,900 for his career.
ABOUT THE DEVILS (16-17-8): Captain Andy Greene (arm) and John Moore (concussion) both were out while fellow defenseman Yohann Auvitu (lower body) was lost early in Saturday’s game, forcing the 22-year-old Damon Severson to play a career-high 28 minutes, 5 seconds, Jon Merrill a season-high 27:38 and Ben Lovejoy 26:38.
“You just feel like you’re playing a lot,” Merrill told The Record. “You don’t really know the number. You’re just grinding it out and doing all you can.” Hall has gone three games without a point, allowing Travis Zajac to tie him for the team lead at 25.
- The Panthers have won four straight in the series, including a pair of overtime contests this season.
- New Jersey G Cory Schneider has turned aside 94 of the 100 shots he has faced in four games this month, including just 2-of-5 on Friday against Toronto.
- Florida C Greg McKegg, who scored twice in his last three games, suffered an upper-body injury Saturday and is questionable.
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