SUNRISE, Fla. (AP)Sam Reinhart scored two of Florida’s four third-period goals and the Panthers rallied to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Saturday night.
Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist to tie former teammate Jonathan Huberdeau for the franchise career points lead with 613.
Matthew Tkachuk also scored and Sergei Bobrovsky made 33 saves. The Panthers kept pace in the Eastern Conference wild-card race, extending their points streak to six at 5-0-1.
“I liked our bounce-back in the third,” Reinhart said. “We started moving our feet a little, started creating some chances and we capitalized. It was a back-and-forth night and they hung on. … This is the most fun time to play. You could sense the atmosphere from the start. Fans know the position we are in. We’re enjoying the battle.”
Nico Hischier and Jesper Boqvist scored in the second period for New Jersey and rookie goalie Akira Schmid made 37 saves. The Devils have lost three straight.
“Just a couple of big breakdowns. I’m embarrassed what we did to our goaltender,’’ New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said. “After recovering from a tough first period and playing such a good second period to do that to ourselves, that’s more than the punch in the gut.”
Hischier opened the scoring while killing a penalty, intercepting an errant pass at the top of the offensive zone and charging in on Bobrovsky at 2:16.
A little over five minutes later, Boqvist scored, with Bobrovsky and a couple of his teammates down on the ice after the goalie’s previous save.
“The second period wasn’t what we wanted, but we had one hell of a first and we wanted to get back to that,’’ Tkachuk said. “I thought we played a really strong 50 minutes – some of the second we would like back. But that third period is how we want to play.”
Florida got on the board at 6:14 of the third on an odd play when Brandon Montour’s shot from the point hit Marc Staal as he was going toward the net. The puck dropped right onto the stick of Barkov, who scored.
The Panthers then scored twice within a span of a minute as Reinhart deflected a Brandon Montour shot past Schmid at 7:54. Tkachuk beat Schmid off a backhander following a pass from Carter Verhaeghe.
Reinhart added an empty-net goal, with Barkov assisting to tie Huberdeau.
Devils: At Tampa Bay on Sunday night.
Panthers: At Detroit on Monday night.
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