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New Jersey (1-2-0) made its 10th straight postseason appearance after compiling a 49-24-9 record in the regular season last year. Reigning Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Martin Brodeur set a single-season record with 48 wins, and helped the Devils tie for third in the league with a 2.35 goals-against per game average.
This year, however, they've given up eight goals while losing two of their first three contests. They fell behind 2-0 in the first period of a 4-2 loss at Ottawa on Monday.
"To win in this league - to win in any league - you've got to play well for 60 minutes," first-year Devils coach Brent Sutter said, "and it's two games in a row where we haven't had a good first period, and three games in a row where we've got one period where we haven't played well because we're not doing what we need to do to be successful."
A meeting with the Panthers (0-3-0) could help Sutter's club rebound. New Jersey beat Florida 4-1 on Saturday to improve to 15-4-0 with one tie in road games against Florida since the start of the 1997-98 season. Overall, the Devils are 26-6-0 with three ties in their last 35 games against the Panthers.
"The main thing is I want these players to have success," Sutter said Saturday.
Brodeur is 30-10-0 with seven ties and a 1.96 goals-against average in 47 career games against Florida.
The Devils, meanwhile, are hoping to return to their form from last season, when they were one of the NHL's best road teams. They have six road games remaining before they return to Newark for their Prudential Center opener against Ottawa on Oct. 27.NJD NOTES
Individual game tickets for the 2007-08 season go on sale tomorrow, October 12, at 9 a.m., via Ticketmaster charge-by-phone and ticketmaster.com.
Full season and partial plans are currently available. Contact a Devils account manager today at 1-800-NJ-DEVIL for more information.