SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Panthers are on a roll.
Aleksander Barkov scored two goals to lift the Panthers to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
Maxim Mamin scored his second NHL goal and Robert Luongo made 29 saves as the Panthers recorded their fourth straight win.
The Panthers have successive victories over Washington, Pittsburgh, Toronto and New Jersey.
“We beat four good teams in a row here. It’s been close games and finding ways to win in the third period,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said.
Each of the games were decided by a one-goal margin and the winning goal coming late in the third period or overtime (Toronto).
“Going into the third, no matter what the score is, we’re confident we’ll come out with the win, and we’ve played our best in the third period, it seems,” Luongo said. “That’s a good quality to have.”
The Panthers finish their season-long six-game homestand with games against Buffalo on Friday and Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon
“We have to make sure there’s no let down and the foot is on the gas pedal,” Boughner said. “We talked about playing good and waking up Monday morning and finding yourself in a really good spot.”
Jesper Bratt and Taylor Hall scored for the Devils, and Patrick Maroon had two assists. Cory Schneider stopped 26 shots in his first start since missing 16 games with a lower-body injury.
“It felt good to play again and it’s a fun time of year to play,” Schneider said. “It’s too bad we didn’t get any points out of this.”
Barkov’s second goal stretched the Panthers lead to 3-1 with 3:34 left in the third. Barkov lifted the puck over Schneider and into the net.
“We still have 20 games left,” Barkov said. “All that matters is winning, and I’m glad I’ve been helping the team with scoring goals and assisting on them.”
Bratt’s goal closed the score to 3-2 with 2:07 left in the third. The goal was Bratt’s first since Jan. 20 against Philadelphia, a span of 19 games.
“It’s tough not to get two points but for myself it’s nice to get a goal after a long time,” Bratt said.
Mamin gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead on his flukey goal at 8:38 of the third period. Mamin grabbed a long cross-ice pass from Jared McCann and flipped the puck up at the net as he skated past on the right side. The puck bounced off Schneider’s back and rolled into the net.
Hall tied the score 1-all on a power-play goal 50 seconds into the second period. Hall’s shot from the top of the right circle was inadvertently redirected into the net off the stick of Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad.
Hall has 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) in a 16-game point streak, the longest in the NHL this season and the longest in Devils history and has a point in 23 consecutive appearances.
Hall wasn’t in a celebratory mood after the loss when asked what the record means to him.
“Not much. I wasn’t very good tonight,” he said. “My goal was a deflection.”
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead after Barkov took a shot from the left side that bounced off Schneider’s pad and out into the crease. The puck then went off the left skate of New Jersey’s Nico Hischier and into the net as he collided with both Florida’s Nick Bjugstad and Schneider in the crease at 6:51 of the first. The goal survived a coach’s challenge of goaltender interference. Barkov has a career-high 60 points.
NOTES: Schneider’s last start for the Devils was Jan. 23 at Boston. … Devils forward Patrick Maroon made his first appearance since being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 26. … Barkov has 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in his past 12 games.
Devils: Visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.
Panthers: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.
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