New York, NY - In what maybe the Cinderella story of the National Hockey League the New Jersey Devils (27-31-4) are now only nine points away from a coveted playoff spot, with their 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers (26-29-7) in Sunday evening action.
New Jersey has been the hottest team in the NHL since the re-hiring of head coach Jacques Lemaire, going 17-2-2 in their last 21 games, while also finishing the month of February with a record of 11-1-1. The Devils have been the hottest team in the second half of the season, and have regained their championship form and swagger.
David Clarkson (9) and the rest of his line were able to put on a determined effort to put in the first New Jersey goal at the 5:46 mark of the second period. Clarkson was able to put in a 12 foot slap shot, which was assisted by Rod Pelly (5) and Adam Mair (2) for the 1-0 Devils lead.
The Panthers took a penalty at the 9:08 mark as Mike Weaver had to serve two minutes for holding Ilya Kovalchuk. New Jersey was able to cash in on that extra-man advantage on a wicked shot by Brian Rolston (11) with 9:11 on the scoreboard. The winger sizzled in a 53 foot shot, which was assisted by Dainius Zubrus (12) for the 2-0 lead.
These two teams would battle until the very end of the game, as Florida decided to make the contest a nail biter at the 15:31 mark of the third period. It was Marty Reasoner (13) would rip an 18 foot slap shot to cut the Devils lead to 2-1.
Eventually Martin Brodeur and the rest of the squad would hang on to earn the victory and another vital two points on this Sunday afternoon. For Brodeur he was able to make 25 saves in his first appearance since February 6, as well as being win number 14 on this still young season.
New Jersey will return home to host the Tampa Bay Lightning for a 7:00 p.m. Wednesday night face off, before hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.