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Preview: Panthers (29-45) at Devils (35-29)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Date: March 23, 2013 7:00 PM EDT
  

Martin Brodeur has the New Jersey Devils back in the win column.

The NHL-worst Florida Panthers have a chance to be there in three straight games for the first time all season.

Brodeur could be in net for a second straight contest Saturday night in New Jersey, where the Devils and Panthers meet for the first time since last season's first-round playoff matchup.

Out since Feb. 21 with a pinched nerve in his upper back and neck, Brodeur made 17 saves and scored his third career goal off an errant pass from Carolina's Jordan Staal in Thursday's 4-1 victory. The Devils (14-11-6) had dropped three in a row overall and six straight on the road.

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"You know him coming back, he's going to give you a boost," center Travis Zajac said. "But he was just awesome today."

The Panthers don't need to be reminded. Brodeur is 15-5-0 with a 1.90 goals-against average and three shutouts in his last 20 regular-season home starts against them.

The NHL's all-time winningest goaltender started each game during the 2012 Eastern Conference playoffs versus Florida, stopping 57 of 61 shots in Game 6 and 7 victories - both went past regulation - to give New Jersey its first playoff series win since 2007.

In the Panthers' previous playoff appearance in 2000, Brodeur stopped 98 of 104 shots in the Devils' first-round sweep.

Florida (9-16-6) still has some playoff life this season, but with a league-low 24 points, it will need a strong push over the final five weeks if it's going to make the postseason a year after winning its first Southeast Division title.

The Panthers are heading in the right direction, defeating the Hurricanes and the New York Rangers to open their season-high five-game trip.

"That's seven or eight solid periods in a row for us," coach Kevin Dineen said after Thursday's 3-1 victory over the Rangers. "That's what we're looking for."

The Panthers have won consecutive road games for the first time since a four-game stretch that started with a 3-1 victory over the Devils on Feb. 11, 2012 - their last regular-season game at New Jersey.

Florida last won three straight overall during a five-game run March 11-20, 2012.

Jacob Markstrom has lost both times he's faced the Devils, but there's a good chance he'll make a third consecutive start for the Panthers. Markstrom has stopped 77 of 79 shots on the trip after coming within 3:48 of his first NHL shutout Thursday.

"I felt really good from the start to the finish," Markstrom said after making a career-high 44 saves.

If that continues, the Panthers' league-worst penalty kill (74.2 percent) has a good chance of improving. It already has, failing just once in seven short-handed chances in the last two games.

New Jersey is 4 for 10 with the man advantage in its last three.

Forward Matt D'Agostini could make his Devils debut after being acquired from St. Louis on Friday for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2015. He has two points in 16 games after beginning the season in Germany.

These clubs split four regular-season matchups in 2011-12, with each winning once on the road.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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