Back on track: Matheson, Pysyk lead Panthers to 5-3 win in New Jersey
Florida snaps 3-game skid with win over Devils
NEWARK, N.J. – Florida's fourth line of Mike Matheson, Mark Pysyk and Noel Acciari each scored and accounted for eight points as the Panthers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
Frank Vatrano and Brett Connolly also scored as the Panthers won for only second time (2-4-1) since returning from the All-Star break. Sam Montembeault had 25 saves in his first start since Nov. 24.
Jack Hughes, Kevin Rooney and Kyle Palmieri scored for the Devils, who saw their season-high six-game (3-0-3) point steak snapped. Louis Domingue made 28 saves in getting a start for MacKenzie Blackwood, who had shutouts in his last two starts.
What made the performance by the Panthers' fourth line so impressive is that Matheson and Pysyk are defenseman who played forward on a line centered by Acciari.
Florida coach Joel Quenneville dressed eight defensemen for the game and the strategy worked to perfection.
Matheson, who like Pysyk has eight goals, gave Florida the lead for good late in the first period, scoring on a rebound in close for a 2-1 lead.
Pysyk, who had a hat trick against Toronto last week, stretched the margin to 3-1 early in the second with a shot in close set up by Matheson.
After Rooney cut the deficit to a goal on a giveaway at 4:17, Florida, which had scored five goals in its last four games, got two more in a 39-second span to push the lead to 5-2.
Vatrano scored on a shot from right circle at 4:59 and Acciari got his 19th of the season on a wrist shot from the slot at 5:38.
Palmieri closed the deficit to 5-3 with 5:30 left in the second period. The Devils had a chance to get within one less than a minute later when Hughes broke in alone, but Montembeault made a great pad pad.
NOTES: The Connolly goal ended the Devils' shutout streak of 147 minutes, 15 seconds. ... Former Devil Brian Boyle missed his fourth-straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Devils C Nico Hischier and D Sami Vatanen missed their fourth straight games with lower-body injuries. ... On the Matheson goal, the fourth line kept the puck in the Devils' zone for more than 90 seconds and attempted seven shots, four of which were blocked. ... Hughes' last goal was on Dec. 29. ... The Devils held their annual Black Hockey History Month night at the game. ... Devils F Joey Anderson got his first point of the season.
Panthers: Return home to host Philadelphia on Thursday.
Devils: Finish three-game homestand against Detroit on Thursday.
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