By John Schweibacher
» More Columns
The New Jersey Devils began the 2016-17 season by going 0-1-1 in their two-game Florida trip after an overtime loss to the Panthers and a regulation loss to the Lightning.
The Devils lost to the Lightning, 3-2, Saturday night in Tampa. New Jersey took an early 2-0 lead on goals from Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac in the first four minutes and 26 seconds of the first period, but Tampa Bay rallied to win.
The Devils lost only one game last season that they led by two goals, a 3-2 shootout loss against Montreal at the Prudential Center on Nov. 27.
The last time New Jersey lost in regulation after leading by at least two goals was on Nov. 21, 2011, a 4-3 loss at Florida in a game the Devils led 3-0 after one period.
Ex-Penguin Beau Bennett made his Devils debut in the loss to the Lightning on Saturday after his former Pittsburgh teammate Ben Lovejoy made his in Thursday night’s season opener. Both Bennett and Lovejoy were members of the Penguins’2016 Stanley Cup championship club.
The only other two players in Devils history who joined the team after being members of a Stanley Cup-winning team the previous season were Hector Marini, who was with the Islanders in both 1980-81 and 1981-82 before joining New Jersey for its inaugural 1982-83 season, and Andrei Loktionov, who was acquired by the Devils during the 2012-13 season after being a member of the Los Angeles Kings in 2011-12.
On Thursday night, the Devils opened the season with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers. It was just the second time in franchise history the Devils, who went 9-2 in games decided in overtime last season, lost their season-opening game in sudden death and their fifth that was not decided in regulation:
• 10/13/16: NJD 1 at Florida 2 (OT)
• 10/8/10: Dallas 4 at NJD 3 (OT)
• 10/8/03: NJD 3 at Bos 3 (tie)
• 1/22/95: NJD 2 at Har 2 (tie)
• 10/4/90: NJD 3 at Det 3 (tie)
Prior to the NHL adding regular season overtime for the 1983-84 season, there were four other occasions in Kansas City Scouts/Colorado Rockies/New Jersey Devils franchise history that the club came away with one point in a season-opening game:
• 10/5/82: Pit 3 at NJD 3 (tie)
• 10/11/79: Stl 3 at Col 3 (tie)
• 10/14/77: Van 4 at Col 4 (tie)
• 10/8/75: NYI 1 at KC 1 (tie)
New Jersey is now 2-4 all-time in regular season games on the road against Florida that were decided in overtime:
• 10/13/16 NJD 1 at Fla 2, Aleksander Barkov
• 3/30/13 NJD 2 at Fla 3, Dmitry Kulikov
• 1/15/11 NJD 2 at Fla 3, Dmitry Kulikov
• 11/26/08 NJD 3 at Fla 2, Johnny Oduya
• 3/23/04 NJD 4 at Fla 3, Scott Niedermayer
• 1/1/98 NJD 1 at Fla 2, Rob Niedermayer
P.A. Parenteau, who was claimed off waivers from the Islanders last Tuesday, scored the Devils’ lone-goal in his first game with New Jersey on Thursday.
It was the third straight year that a player acquired by New Jersey in an offseason move (trade, free agency or waivers) scored in the first game of the following regular season:
• 2016-17: P.A. Parenteau vs. Fla
• 2015-16: Jiri Tlusty vs. Wpg
• 2014-15: Mike Cammalleri (2) at Phi
Zajac appeared in his 700th career game, all with New Jersey, in the season opener against Florida. Zajac’s total of 701 ranks 14th all-time in Devils history and eighth all-time among forwards. Ken Daneyko (1,283), Patrik Elias (1,240) and Sergei Brylin (765) are the only players who have appeared in more games for the Devils without playing for any other NHL team.
Plus: More Zajac. Saturday’s goal by Zajac, the longest tenured active Devil, was the 142nd of his career, tying him with Claude Lemieux and Jamie Langenbrunner for 13th all-time in franchise history.
Minus: Not So Sunny Florida. New Jersey is now 2-6-4 in its last 12 road games against the Panthers and Lighting.