Devils host Panthers looking to regain series edge
Monday, 04.16.2012 / 9:42 AMPANTHERS at DEVILS
(Best-of-seven series tied, 1-1)
TV: NHLN-US, TSN, RDS, SUN (HD), MSG PLUS (HD)
The Panthers evened their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series by scoring their first playoff victory in almost 15 years, notching a 4-2 victory over the Devils in Game 2 on Sunday before 19,248 at BankAtlantic Center. Stephen Weiss
scored twice and Marcel Goc
had a goal and one assist for Florida, which had lost nine straight playoff games since beating the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the conference quarterfinals on April 17, 1997. Jose Theodore
stopped 23 shots for the Panthers, who hung on for the victory after entering the third period with a 3-0 lead. Travis Zajac
and Ilya Kovalchuk
scored for New Jersey.
After establishing a post-expansion NHL record with an 89.6 percent penalty-killing efficiency this season, the Devils suddenly find themselves struggling to contain the Panthers' power play. Through the first two games of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, the Panthers have gone 3-for-7, including 2-for-4 in Sunday's series' tying triumph. The Devils' power play is 1-for-8 in the series, going 0-for-2 on Sunday while generating just a single shot with the man advantage. Florida's second power-play goal 1:12 into the second period was during a 5-on-3 advantage.
Weiss, who made his playoff debut Friday after playing 637 career games, recorded the fastest goal in Florida's playoff history when he opened the scoring just 23 seconds into the game. It was the first of two goals for Weiss against the Devils on Sunday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the goal was the fastest in any period in the Panthers' short playoff history and the fastest power-play goal in the NHL playoffs since 1987 -- when Mats Naslund scored 18 seconds into the game for the Montreal Canadiens.
Goc tied his career playoff high on Sunday with two points, including one goal, and now has one goal and three points in two playoff games.
For the Panthers, forwards Matt Bradley
(concussion) and Jack Skille
(shoulder) are out. … Defenseman Henrik Tallinder
(blood clot) and center Jacob Josefson
(wrist) are out for the Devils.
Stat Pack: Martin Brodeur
, who recorded his 100th career playoff victory in Game 1, made 20 saves for New Jersey on Sunday but suffered his first loss in six playoff games against Florida. … The Panthers had been 0-3 in postseason games played at BankAtlantic Center before winning on Sunday.
Florida's Theodore stopped 23 of 25 shots on Sunday to earn his first playoff win in 10 appearances -- he turned back 34 of 35 shots for Colorado against Minnesota on April 19, 2008. Theodore made 10 saves in the third when the Devils turned on the heat trying to even the score.
"Theo was great again, he made some terrific saves for us," said Florida's Shawn Matthias
. "We have a lot of confidence in both of our goalies. They've been good for us all year."