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After Crazy Game, Florida Panthers Turn Attention Toward Devils



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Carter Verhaeghe, left, celebrates with Sam Bennett after scoring a goal against the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 17 in Newark. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

CORAL SPRINGS — Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice said there was not much the game of hockey could take away from the video of Thursday night’s wild-and-wacky win against the Montreal Canadiens.

A day after that crazy game, Maurice said the Panthers were not going to spend much — if any — time analyzing what went wrong and right against Montreal.

Not with the New Jersey Devils in town on Saturday night.

”Every game from now until the end of the season is a huge game for us,” Sam Bennett said after his team went through a hard-skating workout at the IceDen on Friday afternoon. “We have to come ready to play. (Thursday) was definitely a weird game.

“You’re not going to get games like that very often and you can enjoy them when they do. But you cannot expect any more games like that. The rest are going to be tight, low-scoring games in this push to the playoffs. We have to reset and be ready to play the game we know how to play.”

The Panthers do not expect Saturday’s game against the Devils to come close to resembling the shooting gallery game they just played.

As Florida tries to play its way into the playoffs and come into the day three points out of a wild card spot, the Devils are a point behind Carolina for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Unlike the Canadiens, both teams have a lot on the line come Saturday night.

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The game should reflect that.

“We did come out right. We gave up three shots in 10 minutes and it just so happened they all went in,” Maurice said. “We kind of had the same effect on the other end. We move on.

“We will not spend a lot of time on that game because the next game will not look like that. It is going to be a physical game straight through and neither team will give up much.”

The Panthers and Devils are both playing some of their best hockey of the season coming into the weekend.

Florida is 6-3-1 in its past 10 and rides a five-game (4-0-1) point streak into what is the finale of a seven-game homestand.

New Jersey is 6-2-2 in its past 10 and had won seven of nine before dropping consecutive games to the Lightning earlier this week in Newark.

“We had been looking forward to this long stretch at home since Christmas,” Radko Gudas said.

“(New Jersey) is a strong team off the rush, and they are in the position where they are for a reason. We have to stay tight against them the whole game and that will be crucial for us. We have to be ready from the puck drop to play 60, 65 minutes. Whatever it takes.”


Lost in the craziness of Thursday night’s game was the Colin White goal which got the Panthers going.

After Mike Matheson scored 16 seconds into the game, White tied it at 1 with a nice shot off a backdoor feed from Nick Cousins which was clipped on its way to the slot from the stick of a Montreal defender.

The puck did find White’s stick and he one-timed it past Samuel Montembeault for his eighth goal of the season — and first in his past 10 games.

White has found himself a healthy scratch a few times this season but has now played in the past 11 games on the fourth line. He has been fitting in quite well.

“We have used him all over and, to his credit, we have also sat him in games and he has not pouted,” Maurice said. “He was really good in practice today and knows he has to drive every day. That’s what the role demands.”



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