By John Vogl
The Devils' plan was to rest goalie Cory Schneider on Monday and use him against the Sabres tonight in Buffalo. Martin Brodeur's ineffectiveness put an end to that.
New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer pulled Brodeur in the second period against Florida after the goalie allowed three goals on nine shots. Brodeur still earned the victory after Schneider stopped all 13 shots in a 6-3 win.
"We needed to have this game," Schneider said. "We couldn't afford to lose it. It was sort of heading south there in the second, but we found a way and didn't let it get to us. We got challenged between the second and third and responded in the third. Now it's on to the next one."
The Devils are three points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot, but the Blue Jackets have a game in hand.
Travis Zajac had a hat trick against the Panthers, while ageless Jaromir Jagr had a goal and three assists. Ryane Clowe had a goal and two assists before leaving with an apparent head injury.