The Florida Panthers defended their home ice with a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday at BB&T Center.
With the Tampa Bay Lightning losing their game on Thursday, Florida has once again opened up a two-point lead in the Atlantic Division. Florida also inched closer to clinching a playoff spot, with 95 points overall this year.
Florida got on the board at the 7:57 mark of the second period when Jonathan Huberdeau tied the game at one. Huberdeau's 17th goal of the season and first of the game came with an assist from Shawn Thornton and Aaron Ekblad.
Huberdeau would add his 18th goal of the season early into the third period. Jaromir Jagr and Brian Campbell would help on the eventual game-winning score.
After Huberdeau's second goal of the game, there was a first and it was not a positive moment. Fans threw plastic rats onto the ice to celebrate the goal and a delay of game penalty was called. This was the first time that the so-called "Rat Rule" was put into effect. The Devils would go on a power play immediately following the go-ahead score due to this.
The situation would only deteriorate further when it became a 5 on 3 shortly after. Florida was able to kill the two-man advantage. In the continuing power play, Florida would kill the power play and get things back to even avoiding what could have been a potentially big blow.
In addition to Al Montoya's heroics during those power plays, the goalie had a good night overall. Montoya was filling in for Roberto Luongo who had a tough game last time out. The backup goalie ended up with 23 saves in 25 chances.
Florida would pick up a goal from Aleksander Barkov at the 2:08 mark of the third period to make it a two-goal lead. Barkov's 24th goal of the season came with an assist from Jagr on it. Following Barkov's goal, fans once again tossed rats on the ice resulting in yet another delay of game penalty. The Panthers were unable to kill this penalty off before New Jersey scored.
Next up for the Panthers will be the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday at 7 p.m.