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PANTHERS GET OT WINNER: Kulikov's Goal Good Enough for 3-2 Win over Devils; Matthias Scores Twice - Again

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

The last time the Devils visited Sunrise, the game went late into the night, Adam Henrique winning it with a goal in the second overtime.

Saturday's game between the Devils and Florida didn't carry the same weight as Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals but for the Panthers, this one is going to have to do.

Dmitry Kulikov got the Panthers at least a small measure of revenge Saturday as he beat Martin Brodeur with an overtime slapshot to give the Panthers a 3-2 win at BB&T Center.

Kulikov's shot ensured Shawn Matthias' second straight two-goal night wouldn't be in vain as Florida won in overtime -- not counting two shootout wins -- for the first time this season.

The Panthers have won two straight games as Thursday's win over Buffalo came in a shootout.

"It feels good to get a win against the Devils,'' said Kulikov, who scored with 3:17 left in overtime. "We remember the loss in the playoffs last year and they are rivals to us. We play them as a rival. Every time we play them, it's a great game, a great battle. Everyone goes as hard as they can.''

Said Matthias: "I'm happy with the two goals. That felt good, especially to beat them. I like beating those guys. They won a bigger game against us, but this still feels good.''

It looked like Brodeur and the Devils were going to get the Panthers again as New Jersey had won three straight against Florida dating to last postseason.

Only the Panthers came hard with Jacob Markstrom out of the net in the final minute. Matthias continues to work hard for every goal he gets as he scored with 27 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.

Matthias won the faceoff deep in the Jersey zone then beat Brodeur on Florida's 26th shot of the night. He gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead in the first after camping out in front of Brodeur and redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot from the right side on a power play chance.

"I liked our tempo in the final seven minutes after they scored their last goal,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. "I felt there was a lot of belief on our bench. It took us a long time, but that was an entertaining game.''

Aside from Brodeur (who is 38-18-7 in 62 starts against Florida), Steve Bernier has burned the Panthers of late as well. Bernier, who didn't do much in his one season with the Panthers in 2010-11, has been a pain for Florida since.

Bernier, reunited with former Florida coach Pete DeBoer in New Jersey last year, scored twice Saturday to give the Devils a 2-1 advantage. Bernier's second goal came with Matthias in the box.

For a guy who found himself getting limited minutes -- who was even put on waivers -- after coming to the Panthers in the Keith Ballard trade with Vancouver, Bernier has settled in nicely with the Devils and was a big part of their run to the Stanley Cup Finals last year.

Saturday's two goal night gives Bernier five goals in 10 games -- including last year's seven-game opening round playoff series -- against the Panthers since he left Sunrise.

"We're not quitting,'' Matthias said. "We're battling until the end.''

-- The Panthers are off Sunday but return to the practice ice Monday before flying to Tampa. The Panthers workout at the Saveology.com Iceplex in Coral Springs starts at 1 p.m. Monday and is open to the public.

Comments

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Nice win and great that the TV cameras went back to the normal location so I could enjoy the game. Moving them made no sense, it is so much better low down.
Puckbubba

great comeback from the Panthers. Kulilov redeemed himself for the turnover that led to the devils first goal.

Yes, Kulikov did redeem himself. But he still hasnt learned to quit throwing the puck up the middle in his own end. If he ever figures that out, he can just be the occassional hero instead of the goat who has to redeem himself to avoid getting slammed in print and on the message boards ...

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