Panthers jump out to 4-0 lead, then hold off Devils for first win of season
NEWARK, N.J. — Sam Reinhart moved up to the top line and scored two goals and the defending Eastern Conference champion Florida Panthers held off a late rally by New Jersey in posting a 4-3 victory over the Devils on Monday night.
Carter Verhaeghe and Niko Mikkola also scored goals and Matthew Tkachuk had two assists for the Panthers, who had opened the season with losses at Minnesota and Winnipeg.
Sergei Bobrovsky carried a shutout into the third period but saw Erik Haula, Michael McLeod and Jesper Bratt tally to get New Jersey within a goal with 2:23 to play. The 35-year-old who has started all three games this season finished with 33 saves.
Vitek Vanecek finished with 25 saves despite spending the final 4:14 on the bench as the Devils played with an extra skater.
Reinhart, who was moved up from the third line to replace Verhaeghe on the top line with Aleksander Barkov and Evan Rodrigues, scored on deflections in front. The first came 3:54 after the opening faceoff, and the second came on a third-period power play that gave Florida a 4-0 lead.
Verhaeghe, who was dropped to the second line, beat Vanecek with a nifty backhander for a 2-0 lead after taking a stretch pass from Tkachuk at 13:12 of the opening period.
Mikkola, a defenseman who signed with Florida as a free agent in the offseason, dunked a great pass by Tkakcuk into an open net after sneaking in from the point in the second period.
NOTES: Florida’s Paul Maurice coached in his 1,769th game Monday night, surpassing Joel Quenneville for third all-time among NHL coaches. … Forward Sam Bennett and defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour have yet to play this season because of injuries. … RW Justin Sourdif, a third-round draft pick in 2020, made his NHL debut for the Panthers. … The Devils have fallen behind in every game this season. … The loss denied coach Lindy Ruff his 100th win with New Jersey.
Panthers: Return to Sunrise, Florida, to host to Toronto on Thursday in the start of a four-game homestand.