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Dvorak and Booth power the Panthers to a 2-1 win over the Devils

NEWARK, N.J. - Jacques Martin joined a club so exclusive, its members numbered in the single digits. Until he joined, anyway.

Martin became the 10th NHL coach with 500 wins after Radek Dvorak and David Booth scored early in the third period to lift the Florida Panthers to a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday. Backup goalie Craig Anderson made 31 saves and the Panthers ended a three-game losing streak.

"I've been very fortunate to work in this league, the best league in the world and to have some good players to coach," said Martin, who is also Florida's general manager.

Dvorak and Booth scored 1:17 apart in the third to give Florida the lead. Dvorak got the equalizer 2:28 in. Brett McLean unloaded a hard shot on Martin Brodeur who made a stick save. Dvorak pounced on the rebound for his first goal in 11 games.

Ruslan Salei fired a shot that missed completely but bounced off the end boards right to Booth for a tiebreaking tap-in.

"I don't know if he did it on purpose but he's a pretty smart defenceman," Booth said. "He shot it wide and it was a good play by him and the rebound came right there."

Anderson secured the win down the stretch, denying Brian Gionta from the slot with 2 1/2 minutes remaining to win his duel with Brodeur.

"Everybody was working hard tonight and it was good to see a turn for the better," Anderson said. "It's good to go against a future Hall of Famer, play head-to-head with him and get the win."

Brodeur was impressed.

"After not playing many games, he made some big saves," Brodeur said. "This was a real bad loss for us. Up 1-0 in your building, you have to find a way to squeak it out."

Travis Zajac scored for the Devils, who had won their past six home games against the Panthers. The New Jersey loss, combined with Tampa Bay's 3-0 win over Pittsburgh, left the Devils and Penguins tied atop the Atlantic Division with 55 points.

Zajac scored 1:10 into the second, deflecting Jamie Langenbrunner's shot past Anderson for his fifth goal in seven games.

New Jersey had plenty of opportunities to extend the lead as Florida picked up four consecutive penalties. Only strong work by Anderson and the Panthers' penalty-kill held off the Devils.

"Obviously, we wanted to build on the lead and score on the power play and build some confidence," Zajac said. "After two, we still had the lead in our building. That lapse in the third can't happen on home ice."

Brodeur made a pair of excellent saves to preserve the deadlock in the scoreless first period. He made a sprawling stop on Booth in the opening minutes and slid across to block Richard Zednik's rebound bid with five minutes remaining. Brodeur also got lucky in the final minute when Olli Jokinen hit the crossbar on a power-play slap shot from the point.

Notes: The Panthers scratched LW Rostislav Olesz who reinjured the right hand that required surgery earlier this season. ... Florida, already hard hit by injuries to forwards Jozef Stumpel and Ville Peltonen, called up C Shawn Matthias from Belleville (OHL) on Friday. ... The Devils removed D Karel Rachunek from injured reserve and assigned RW Barry Tallackson to Lowell (AHL). Rachunek, sidelined since Dec. 21 with an ankle injury, dressed as New Jersey went with seven defencemen.



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