Pirri has goal, 2 assists; Panthers beat Devils 5-1
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Brandon Pirri says the Florida Panthers are enjoying themselves these days.
With good reason.
Pirri had a goal and two assists, Jussi Jokinen and Logan Shaw each had a goal and an assist and Florida beat the New Jersey Devils 5-1 on Thursday night.
Florida has won two in a row after beating the New York Islanders 5-1 on Tuesday night.
Vincent Trocheck and Corban Knight had two assists, Dmitry Kulikov and Reilly Smith also scored and Al Montoya made 15 saves for the Panthers.
“We’re having fun,” Pirri said. “We’re just enjoying the ride.”
Five players finished with two or more points for Florida.
“We had the puck the whole night,” Pirri said.
On the other end of the spectrum are the New Jersey Devils, who lost for the second time in three games despite Cory Schneider’s 21 save effort.
“It wasn’t Cory,” Devils coach John Hynes said when asked if he thought about starting backup Keith Kinkaid. “Collectively we need to be better.”
New Jersey’s Sergey Kalinin made it 4-1 with a power-play goal with 6:22 left, but Shaw scored an empty-net goal with 4:44 remaining.
The Panthers went into the first intermission up 2-0 on Jokinen’s power-play goal and Kulikov’s tally.
Jokinen’s sixth of the season opened the scoring at 9:32. He corralled Pirri’s stretch pass at the blue line, then split two defenders before snapping a shot past Schneider.
About 2 1/2 minutes later, Kulikov’s first of the season doubled the Panthers’ advantage, and it was the culmination of a long shift in which Florida’s top line of Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr maintained possession of the puck in the offensive zone for an extended period of time.
Pirri scored his seventh of the season 2:42 into the second to grow the lead to 3-0. Pirri ripped a drive from the right circle that beat Schneider cleanly.
Dating back to Dec. 8, Pirri has two goals and four assists in five games. Against New Jersey, the line of Pirri, Knight and Shaw combined for two goals and five assists for seven points.
“It’s fun right now,” Pirri said. “We’re going to be here for a while.”
Neither team generated many offensive chances, with Florida finishing with advantages in shots on goal (26-16) and total attempted shots (33-26).
Montoya is now 5-1-1 in eight games with a 1.79 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.
“Solid, predictable game on our part,” Montoya said. “We made them work.”
Smith jammed Trocheck’s feed under Schneider for Florida’s fourth goal at 7:28 of the third. Schneider stopped Smith’s initial shot, but the Florida winger’s second jab at the puck led to his 10th goal of the season.
Kalinin tipped Palmieri’s slap shot to spoil Montoya’s shutout bid. Palmieri was initially credited with the goal, but his shot glanced off Kalinin’s leg and in.
“We didn’t play offensively the way we needed to play,” Hynes said. “We didn’t play a hard enough game.
“This wasn’t a good game.”
NOTES: Prior to the game, New Jersey activated left wing Tuomo Ruutu from the injured reserve and assigned right wing Brian O’Neill to its AHL affiliate in Albany, N.Y. Ruutu had missed 27 straight games with a fractured right foot. ... The game was the 100th with the Devils for Ruutu, Jordin Tootoo and Mike Cammalleri. ... Florida scratched Connor Brickley and Derek MacKenzie. ... Stefan Matteau and Eric Gelinas were scratched by New Jersey. ... Jagr’s assist on Kulikov’s goal was the 1,093rd in his career and his 1,824th point in his 1,579th NHL game. ... Florida has one game remaining on its four-game trip. ... The announced attendance was 12,512.