Panthers 3, Devils 1

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 11, 2012
Scott Clemmensen stopped 27 shots against his former team and the Florida Panthers beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 on Saturday. Sean Bergenheim, Kris Versteeg and Mikael Samuelsson scored for the Panthers, who have won four of six. Florida stretched its Southeast Division-lead over Washington to two points with just its second road win in 12 games. Steve Bernier scored for the Devils and Martin Brodeur made 18 saves, but New Jersey has lost two straight for the first time since a three-game skid from Jan. 19-24. Bernier and Bergenheim traded goals in the first period. Bernier scored his first goal since Feb. 10, 2011, 1:39 in to give the Devils a quick lead. Dainius Zubrus forced a turnover by Keaton Ellerby below the right circle, and Zubrus' pass to Alexei Ponikarovsky deflected in off Bernier in front. New Jersey surged after the early goal, and the Devils had an 8-0 advantage in shots until Brodeur stopped Eric Gudbranson's drive at 10:58 of the first. But while the Devils dominated, they couldn't solve Clemmensen. The Panthers' play improved as the first period progressed. The Devils recorded only 15 shots in the final 40 minutes. Bergenheim got the Panthers even at 15:08 with a power-play goal, redirecting Gudbranson's shot past Brodeur. Versteeg gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead 7:43 into the second when he ripped Stephen Weiss' blocked shot over Brodeur from the slot. Versteeg's goal was his 21st of the season, one shy of his career high set in the 2008-09 season when he was with Chicago. Florida protected its one-goal lead in the third period by clogging the neutral zone and keeping the Devils' shots from the perimeter. Samuelsson added an empty-net goal to make it 3-1. Florida was 1 for 3 on the power play and killed New Jersey's only advantage. NOTES: The matinee was Florida's first of the season. The Panthers will play another day game on Sunday at the New York Islanders. ... The teams split the season series 2-2. ... Florida D Jason Garrison sustained an undisclosed lower body injury in the second period and didn't return.
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