Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Devs Score Early, but Not Often

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Devs Score Early, but Not Often

Article excerpt

NEWARK -- A fast start had the Devils thinking they were on the fast track to another victory.

The Florida Panthers had other ideas, though, and the Devils couldn't find an answer again to Kris Versteeg and Scott Clemmensen in a 3-1 loss Saturday afternoon at Prudential Center.

Versteeg scored the go-ahead goal 7:43 into the second period -- his fifth goal in four games against the Devils this season -- and Clemmensen made 27 saves to improve to 4-0-0 against his former team.

"It was funny how we dominated early and that was probably the worst thing because maybe we thought it was going to be easy," said Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, who returned from a one-game layoff because of a sore right ankle.

The Devils grabbed the lead only 1:39 into the game on Steve Bernier's first goal with the team and built an 11-1 advantage in shots in the opening 13:15. Sean Bergenheim's power-play deflection at 15:08 tied the game, however, and halted the Devils' momentum.

"I think we came out well the first 10 minutes," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "I think it was a combination of a couple of things. We were playing our seventh game in 11 1/2 days and we ran out of a little bit of gas and on the other side, I thought Florida did a good job bottling us up."

After winning five consecutive games following the All-Star break, the Devils have lost their past two, including Thursday's 4- 3 shootout loss to St. Louis. Saturday's loss is the Devils' first in regulation since a 4-1 loss to Philadelphia on Jan. 21, ending a 5-0-2 run.

Pittsburgh's win over Winnipeg on Saturday dropped the Devils into sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

"It's frustrating because we've been playing really well as of late," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "I don't want to say it was a step backwards, but it wasn't a great effort by us."

DeBoer called it "a missed opportunity."

"I thought we'd have a little more in the tank than we did," DeBoer said. "Then, when we didn't, you almost have to get in the mind-set you've got to win that game 1-0 somehow. …

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