Martin Brodeur recorded 31 saves, including a last-second backhand by Stephen Weiss to post his 20th win of the season.
newjerseydevils.com (Jan. 2) – In their first game of 2008, the Devils rang in the new year the right way – with a win.
Jamie Langenbrunner scored a goal and an assist, and Martin Brodeur made 31 saves as the Devils beat the Florida Panthers, 3-2, at Prudential Center on Wednesday night.
Noah Clarke notched his first goal as a Devil in his New Jersey debut, and Brian Gionta netted the deciding tally in the third period with his fifth power-play goal.
New Jersey improved to 22-14-3 with its 11th victory on home ice (11-5-0), and snapped Florida's three-game road winning streak.
The Devils, who have won eight of their last nine games in Newark, have not lost to the Panthers at home since Oct. 22, 2003, a span of six games.
Langenbrunner's sixth of the season at 9:08 of the first period broke a five-game scoring drought for the team's captain.
Paul Martin held in a clearing attempt by Rostislav Olesz at the right point, allowing Travis Zajac to control in the Florida zone. Zajac fed to Dainius Zubrus, who skated the puck around the net before backhanding to Langenbrunner in front for the 1-0 lead.
Clarke later made it 2-0 when he collected a loose puck in the Panthers' zone and beat Tomas Vokoun to his stick side from the slot at 13:35.
After New Jersey had outshot Florida 12-6 in the opening period, the Panthers turned the tables in the second to close to 2-1.
Florida put 14 shots on goal in the middle frame to New Jersey's five, and the Panthers got on the board with David Booth's ninth of the season from Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton at 7:30.
"We found a way to win a hockey game," head coach Brent Sutter said. "Two points are two points. Obviously, you would like to play as well as you can every night. Sometimes you are fortunate enough to win when you don't play a well as you need to play for 60 minutes. Tonight was one of those games."
The Devils' power play, which entered the game 0-for-20 over its last five games got a shot in the arm early in the third period, courtesy of a 1:53 two-man advantage.
Seven seconds after Ruslan Salei had been called for interference at 2:09, Bryan Allen took a delay of game penalty for putting the puck over the glass.
Following a Devils timeout 57 seconds in, Gionta connected for his 12th of the season from Zach Parise and Langenbrunner to restore New Jersey's two-goal advantage.
Langenbrunner worked the puck from the right point to Parise near the bottom of the right circle. Parise fired a pass across to Gionta, who was parked just off the left post for the tap-in at 3:42.
"We scored a big goal on [the power play] tonight," Sutter said. "That was obviously huge when you capitalize on that. In a 2-1 hockey game in the third and to get a 5-on-3, we had to take a timeout to settle things down. We got set up in our zone and made a real good play to capitalize on it."
The Panthers once again closed to within a goal 1:24 later when Jay Bouwmeester notched his sixth of the season to make it 3-2.
But Brodeur came up big with a stop on Weiss in the final 21 seconds of regulation to keep New Jersey on top.
The win gives the Devils a 2-1-0 lead in the season series with Florida heading into their final meeting on Jan. 18 in Newark.
New Jersey next welcomes Philadelphia to Prudential Center for a 7 p.m. faceoff on Friday night.
Colin White joined John Madden on Wednesday as a Devils alternate captain... Clarke and Barry Tallackson, who were recalled from Lowell (AHL) under emergency conditions on Tuesday, made their first appearances of the season... Clarke was second on Lowell with 12g-13a-25pts in 35 games played. The 5-9, 190-lb. native of La Verne, Calif., entered the game with two goals and an assist in 20 career NHL games, all with Los Angeles... Tallackson was third on Lowell this season with 12g-9a-21pts in 30 games. The 6-5, 215-lb. winger had made 13 previous appearances with New Jersey, including three last season... Clarke wore No. 12 and skated on a line with Sergei Brylin and David Clarkson. Tallackson wore No. 24 and skated with Rod Pelley and Mike Rupp.
Jay Pandolfo and Karel Rachunek were placed on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 28 and Dec. 21, respectively... Wednesday's scratches were Arron Asham, Patrik Elias (groin) and Sheldon Brookbank.