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BeDeviled: Jacob Markstrom Makes NHL Debut, Florida Panthers Lose in Jersey 5-2

Eggs2 DEVILS 5, PANTHERS 2

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Panthers caught a glimpse into their future on Sunday afternoon.

They are banking it will get better.

Jacob Markstrom, Florida's highly-touted goalie prospect, made his NHL debut against the Devils on Sunday and despite a strong start – well, the Devils didn't get off a shot in his opening 11 minutes – things went downhill rapidly. New Jersey picked up two power play goals on its first five shots against Markstrom and ran away with a 5-2 victory.

“It's fun to play your first game in the NHL, this is why I came to North America in the first place,'' Markstrom said afterward. “But you always want to win. I hate to lose. It doesn't matter if I played two periods or one or three. We didn't win. There are more games coming up.''

Said coach Pete DeBoer: “He's going to be an NHL goalie for a long time. Now he's got the first one out of the way.''

Florida has now lost four straight but did pick up at least a point in its previous three losses. The surging Devils are still way out of the playoff race, but have won six of seven with their only loss during this run coming to the Panthers in Sunrise on Jan. 15.

Markstrom was told by Rochester coach Chuck Weber on Saturday night that he was coming up to backup Scott Clemmensen after it was decided Tomas Vokoun's undisclosed 'upper-body' injury would keep him from dressing. Clemmensen has been strong against his former teammates of late, winning both starts against the Devils last season and taking the game earlier this month.

Devil Clemmensen, however, wasn't very sharp on Sunday and DeBoer decided to make a change after New Jersey scored twice in the opening period.

“We were looking for a shock for the team,'' DeBoer said of the quick hook. “It was a no pressure situation for [Markstrom] because sometimes if you know you're playing, you sit around all day thinking about it. In this case, we threw him out there. I thought he handled himself well.''

The Devils jumped to a 1-0 lead when Florida nemesis Ilya Kovalchuk – 32 goals and 30 assists in 51 games, most of which with Atlanta – fired a long shot past Clemmensen after the Panthers defense failed to clear the puck less than five minutes in.

The two teams played a defensive-minded game for much of the remainder of the first, with the two teams combining for just 15 shots. But the Devils' eighth shot of the period was a doozy as Jason Arnott knocked the puck past Clemmensen with just two seconds remaining.

The Panthers failed to clear the puck on numerous chances, although Clemmensen didn't help his cause by misplaying a puck. Thanks to that and Florida's inability to get rid of it, the Devils set themselves up nicely.

“If you're going to play it, play it hard,'' goalie coach Robb Tallas said. “I think the game for [Clemmensen] was a reflection of how the game was going for us. Changing goalies did give us a spark. We came out and were shooting. Clemmensen knew he misplayed the puck. You can't have a soft touch there.''

Clemmensen found himself on the bench to start the second with Markstrom making his debut. Markstrom, the first pick of the second round in the 2008 draft, had plenty of time to calm any nerves he may have had as the Panthers played the aggressor and cycled the puck in the Jersey zone.

Markstrom By the time Alexander Vasyunov took the Devils' first shot of the second with 8:31 remaining, the Panthers had already cut the deficit in half as center Shawn Matthias scored on a pretty shot, beating Martin Brodeur at 7:22 of the second.

Markstrom stopped the first two shots he faced, but he never saw the third as Brian Rolston whipped a power play shot from the right side that buzzed over the 20-year-old goalie's shoulder. The Devils got a great power play chance not long after when Florida defensemen Joe Callahan and Mike Weaver went to the penalty box within 18 seconds of each infraction.

Playing with a two-man advantage, the Devils quickly made it 4-1 when Patrik Elias – another Devil who loves playing Florida – slipped in a shot from the right side of the cage.

The Panthers made it a two-goal game when Marty Reasoner knocked in a loose puck five minutes into the third, but unlike Florida, the Devils traditionally don't give up many two goal leads – especially with Jacques Lemaire back behind the bench. The Devils got their fifth goal when Arnott scored into an empty net.

Sunday's game could be the only one Markstrom plays with the Panthers this season – or not. He said he didn't know his immediate future. Vokoun is expected to practice with the team Monday at Chelsea Pier in Manhattan.

“As a backup goalie, you have to prepare to be ready to play,'' said Markstrom, whose official opening line is two goals off 14 shots in 39:49 of playing time. “I was prepared to get in but I didn't expect it.''

Hershey -- Markstrom was told he was joining the Panthers on Saturday night after his Rochester Americans played in Hershey, Pa. Markstrom said he woke up early, flew into the New York area and took a cab to the team's hotel in Times Square. Markstrom was rushed because Sunday's game was an afternoon start.

“I thought he was real good for traveling all day,'' Tallas said.

Luongo -- Markstrom became the youngest goalie to make his debut with the Panthers. Roberto Luongo, who had already made his NHL debut by the time he made his first start for the Panthers in 2000, was 21-years-old.

Kevin Weekes and Alexander Salak were both 22 when they played in their first games for Florida. Weekes

Salak, like Markstrom, made his debut by coming in after DeBoer decided to make a change. Salak replaced Vokoun in a game at Carolina last season.

Comments

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Any big market, the OJHL coach is gone...4 losses in a row and the season slipping away..

It's over friends...time to start trading away our UFA's.

Good. The season was over during the past offseason. We should be tanking and need that top pick more than a 9-12th place finish in the east.

Maybe DeBoer will get a real NHL next season to play with?

Told you guys Markstrom is a bust.He even got a break with a quick whistle from the ref after he dropped the puck from his glove and the devils scored but the score was negated by a quick whistle.Stupid thing DeBoer did by pulling Clemmie who didnt play bad.This is the start of the collapse.Dadanov is the only offensive player on this team.Were done now.

Way to keep tabs on the farm team, George. Weber's first name is Chuck not Bruce.....

Yeah I messed up and fixed it...'Bruce' is a good dude

@litespeedvb1

Just want to be clear on your comment:

Markstrom is declared a "bust" following less than 40 minutes of extraordinarily short-notice emergency callup in-game relief action, entering on a 0-2 score while allowing two PP goals, one of which was a 5-on-3 with two defensemen in the box. Is that correct?

Well by all means dump the guy. And to think FLA gave up Chris Gratton for this vile weed.

That's what the world is to gather from your statement, right?

Why is Olesz still on this team? This is getting ridiculous.

Why is Stillman still on this team?

Why is Weiss on the trade block now?
Why isn't Booth on the block? he's a Horton type, shows up here and again, never consistent.

Are we buyers or sellers? Tallon, what is your plan for THIS season?

We should be sellers; and are players still on the team, because the other teams know they aren't very good players and there is no market for them.

As far as Booth, have to disagree, if Horton gave the effort of Booth he would be a superstar. The Bruins are now seeing what we saw of Lazy Nate.

Markstrom is learning a new culture, smaller rink with different angles give him a chance.

Look at Carey Price, Mark Andre Fluery as examples of goalies who took time to become consistent stars.

The best goalies in the world would struggle behind the roster we have.

Tallon needs to either trade or waive some of our vets and bring up more kids so we can see how they can handle the NHL.

I disagree. For how awful some of the kids in the AHL are playing, I think it is best that they stay there. Panthers are better off picking up prospects by trades from other teams than bringing up any more Amerks.

Why is stillman on still on the team? He has an assist in at least the past 6 games. I think that is good enough reason. He has been the most consistent forward on this losing streak.

The real question is why is Hulton still coaching the PP? Why are ALL of the forwards so inconsistent?

As long as PD is here, Hulton will be here. They are friends from juniors....

Markstrom went from AHL to NHL in a few hours notice, he did okay. Our defense has some key injuries to deal with that can't be discounted, not just a goalie issue.

It does seem that our PP coach has a guardian angel looking out for his job. He's working out about as well as the Human Torch selling ice cream.

Error: "Matthias" instead of "Markstrom" in the beginning of the paragraph under Markstrom's draft pic.

Good catch...thanks

lol...this guy is a hockey beat writer? Wow. That was an awful game on both sides and the "spark" was not thanks to the goalie change.

I didn't say it, the coach did...those little marks that look like this " mean 'quotes.'

your all dumb if you thought tallon was going to come here and that would make us instant cup contenders, stuff like this doesnt happen over night it takes time.

as for markstrom, sweeden has a whole different style of play, its his first year.. give him time he's still learning... he really didnt do that bad for his nhl debut. he had like 18 saves and the 2 goals he let in were on the pp and one was on a 5-3.. give the kid a break.

I've been watching him play in the AHL and he has impressed me. He'll be very good soon enough; he's still very young.

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