Devils Down Panthers – Zajac Gets Overtime Goal

SUNRISE, Fla. — Travis Zajac scored the winning goal on the power play in overtime, lifting the New Jersey Devils to a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.

Nathan Bastian scored twice in regulation, Pavel Zacha also scored a goal and Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 37 shots for the Devils in the season finale for both teams.

On the winner, Zajac fired a shot from the high slot that got past Roberto Luongo at 4:04 of 4-on-3 overtime.

Travis Zajac, New Jersey Devils, NHL
The Devils will need more from players like Zajac if they are to take step forward this season. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Mike Hoffman scored for the Panthers. Roberto Luongo made 23 saves.

Barkov’s goal, his 35th of the season, was his 95th point, surpassing Pavel Bure as the Panthers’ single-season leader. Barkov also had an assist.

Trailing 3-1, the Panthers scored two goals in the final 3:25 to tie the score at 3.

Huberdeau closed the gap to 3-2 when Evgenii Dadonov passed from behind the net to Huberdeau in front, and Huberdeau poked in the puck for his 30th goal.

Hoffman tied it at 3 on his shot from the high slot that beat Blackwood with 1:25 left in the third. Hoffman recorded his 300th NHL point on the goal.

Trailing 2-0, Barkov skated in and fired the puck under Blackwood’s pads with 8:02 left in the second to make the score 2-1.

The Devils took a 3-1 lead when Zacha easily got past defenceman Aaron Ekblad and flipped the puck into the net with 5:31 left in the second.

Bastian opened the scoring on his first goal at 1:27 in when his one-timer beat Luongo on the glove side.

Bastian stretched the lead to 2-0 when Egor Yakovlev made a nice centring feed and Bastian redirected the puck into the net at 7:41 of the second.

The Devils had a goal overturned when Drew Stafford was called for a high stick after he deflected a shot by Kenny Agostino into the net in the first period.

NOTES: The Panthers have three 30-goal scorers (Hoffman, Barkov and Huberdeau) for the first time in franchise history. … F Jamie McGinn and C Denis Malgin each played Saturday. McGinn was a healthy scratch the past four games, and Malgin the past two. … Devils forward Brett Seney played his first game since Feb. 23 after being recalled from AHL Binghamton. … Zacha celebrated his 22nd birthday Saturday.


Both the Devils and Panthers head into the off-season after failing to make the playoffs.


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Paul Gereffi, The Associated Press