The slumping Devils have lost three in a row, and their newest acquisition won’t be available to help break the slide against his former team.
Badly in need of a big center, the Devils acquired Kozlov on Monday from Florida in exchange for forward Christian Berglund and defenseman Victor Uchevatov.
“Viktor Kozlov is a skilled two-way player who brings size and strength to the center position on our hockey club,” Devils president Lou Lamoriello said of the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Russian.
Kozlov, 29, had 11 goals and 16 assists in 48 games with the Panthers. He has played nine seasons in the NHL with San Jose and Florida, and is ranked third on the Panthers’ career list for goals, assists and power-play goals.
Kozlov, however, wasn’t in the lineup Monday night as the Devils fell 2-1 to Montreal, and isn’t expected to play Wednesday either. He suffered the concussion Feb. 14 against Tampa Bay.
“I had a light concussion, but it’s getting better,” Kozlov told the Star-Ledger. “I can’t play right now. I’m getting better and I hope I can play as soon as possible.”
The Devils have slid to sixth place in the Eastern Conference, just two points ahead of the red-hot Canadiens, who bolstered their own lineup Tuesday with the acquisition of forward Alexei Kovalev from the New York Rangers.
The Devils will be playing the third game of a five-game road trip as they try to stay ahead of the Canadiens.
Martin Brodeur lost his third straight start Monday despite making 37 saves.
“I’m not used to having that many shots, but for the most part we played well,” Brodeur said. “I was seeing the puck really well. I gave up a few rebounds, so they had second chances because of that.”
Luongo led the Panthers to a 1-0 victory over Washington on Tuesday, his fourth shutout in seven games and team-record seventh of the season.
“Every game is important, but our last two against those guys we gave up a lead,” said Luongo, who made 29 saves. “We talked about it in the second period and we played solid in the third.”
The Panthers are in ninth place in the East, eight points behind the New York Islanders for the final playoff spot with 15 games to play.