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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 2:20 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Gionta proving to be a hit centering Devils' fourth line

NEWARK, N.J. -- An obvious hole needed to be filled when center Jacob Josefson suffered a fractured wrist late in the season, altering the lineup plan for New Jersey Devils coach Pete DeBoer entering the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
 
Looking back, DeBoer admits the one name that kept coming up as a more-than-capable replacement was 5-foot-7, 185-pound Stephen Gionta.
 
"He hadn't played center in probably a year, but came in and has seamlessly jumped into that spot and given us everything we could ask for … I can't say enough about him," DeBoer told the media following his team's 4-0 victory over Florida on Thursday in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.
 
The Devils conducted an optional workout at Prudential Center on Friday before departing for Sunrise, Fla., for Game 5 on Saturday at BankAtlantic Center. The best-of-seven series is tied, 2-2.
 
"Stephen's been a great, great story," DeBoer continued. "Here's a kid who never even had a game all year with us, but has come in and given us a real spark. He's enthusiastic and dependable."
 
Strange, but it almost sounds like DeBoer is referring to the elder Gionta, Brian, who just happens to be the 33-year-old captain of the Montreal Canadiens.
 
"He has a lot of the same traits as his brother, and his brother has a history of rising to the occasion in the playoffs," DeBoer said. "I think Stephen is one of those types of guys."
 
Gionta, who was recalled from Albany on April 6 for the second time in three days, had six goals and 16 points in 56 games in the American Hockey League this season. The 28-year-old undrafted forward out of Boston College has been with the organization since the 2005-06 season. The move to bring him up is certainly paying off right now.
 
"I try to bring energy to the team when I get an opportunity," Gionta told NHL.com. "Hopefully, I can give the team quality minutes out there when I do get that opportunity."
 
As you might expect, Gionta, who averages 6:41 quality minutes each game in the playoffs, does communicate with big brother quite frequently.
 
"We stay in touch pretty good and we've talked quite a few times since the original call-up, so it's been nice and he's shown great support," Gionta said. "He just told me to go out, have fun and play my game and let the chips fall."
 
Right now, Gionta is playing a key role centering the club's fourth line alongside left wing Ryan Carter and right wing Steve Bernier.
 
"I don't know if I'm surprised [to see how well Gionta has played], but it's nice to see," Carter told NHL.com. "A guy enters a scenario where he's playing playoff games right off the bat, and having confidence. That says a lot about the guy, and he's enjoying it, too."
 
Through four games in this series, Gionta's line has produced three goals, five points, a plus-7 rating and 15 shots on goal. Gionta has also delivered six hits, including three crunching blows in Game 4 that generated plenty of excitement on the bench.
 
"I think we're finding success in not trying to do too much," Carter said. "We're trying to keep the puck behind their goal line, wear them down a little bit. We just want to make it difficult on them. Our game right now is making them go 200 feet and forcing them to battle."
 
"That fourth line has done a great job for us," DeBoer said. "They've chipped in a couple of goals and have generated momentum."
 
Gionta has played five games since his recall from Albany. He scored his first NHL goal in the season finale and has a goal and an assist in the playoffs being moved from wing to center.
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale


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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 2:08 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Henrique excited, honored by Calder nomination



NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils rookie center Adam Henrique didn't appear too surprised when asked if he expected to be named one of three finalists for this year's Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year.
 
But he's certainly honored to be in the mix.
 
"I was excited," Henrique told the media following practice on Friday. "Obviously, it's a big honor to be nominated and be a part of the group, so it's something I'm very excited about and proud of."
 
Henrique remained off the ice on Friday, along with Ilya Kovalchuk, for some rest, but both will be in the lineup on Saturday when the Devils play the Florida Panthers in Game 5 at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise.
 
The League announced on Friday that Henrique, Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers were named finalists for the Calder. The winner will be announced in Las Vegas on June 20.
 
Henrique is actually the first Devil to be voted a Calder finalist since Scott Gomez won the award in 2000. Martin Brodeur also won it for the Devils in 1994.
 
"It's a great honor, the Calder is one of these trophies that's once in a lifetime, so for you to be part of the top rookies is special," Brodeur said. "He's had a heck of a season, and played like a veteran out there. He was responsible, being on the power-play, penalty-kill and in five-on-five situations while playing on the top line.
 
"Sometimes, when you play on teams expected to win, it's a little tougher, but to play as a rookie, he adjusted really well."
 
The 22-year-old Henrique, selected in the third round (No. 82) by the Devils in 2008, earned a full-time spot in the lineup this season after Jacob Josefson fractured his right clavicle on Oct. 21. The Devils were already without center Travis Zajac, who was coming off Achilles surgery in August, so the need for a quality center became of the utmost importance.
 
Henrique was certainly up to the challenge.
 
Devils coach Pete DeBoer decided to insert the youngster between Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk and he would flourish.
 
"I think things started to click when early while playing with Zach and Kovy," Henrique said. "Once we started playing well, it gave me extra confidence to be here and stick around. That was a big confidence boost for me.
 
"Due to the injuries, this was something I wanted to take advantage of and prove to the staff and everyone here that I could play and fit in with those guys. Once things started going, it carried through the year."
 
The Brantford, Ontario native finished first among all first-year players with 35 assists and third with 51 points in 74 games. He also tied for the League lead with four shorthanded goals. Henrique finished one point behind Landeskog (22 goals, 52 points) and Nugent-Hopkins (18 goals, 52 points) for the rookie scoring lead.
 
"It was a hard thing to do at his age," Parise said. "In your first year, there's pressure and sometimes it's tough to cope with when you go through those funks. He never really changed his game whether the points were coming or not, though, and that was key."
 
Henrique led all rookies with 501 faceoff wins on 1,026 draws (48.8 percent). He ranked 10th among rookie forwards with 83 hits, third with 57 blocked shots and second with 49 takeaways during the regular season.
 
"He worked the entire season to be in that group, and it's a special group of players he's mentioned with there and deservedly so," DeBoer said. "He's skilled and a good kid, but I think the biggest thing is he doesn't have an ego. He got sent back at first, coming out of training camp, and I've seen that effect that could have on a player -- some feel sorry for themselves. But because he has no ego, he got another chance very quickly and made the most of it."
 
After being selected by the Devils at the draft, Henrique spent two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with the Windsor Spitfires and one more with the American Hockey League's Albany Devils.
 
Despite the fact he doesn't have a goal through four games in the playoffs and has gone 11 straight games without a score, he remains positive.
 
"I think you got to chip in any way you can," Henrique said. "It's the playoffs, and we've had offensive contributions from the fourth-line guys and the top guys are producing offensively, so that's another area where I need to try to do more.
 
"At the same time, we have to take care of other aspects of the game like playing solid defensively. I thought, as a [third] line, we had our best game in Game 4. We skated well, were on the puck. If you're not scoring, you need to be doing other things to contribute to the win."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 9:30 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Garrison absence proves pivotal for Panthers

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Florida Panthers were minus a key cog on defense against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday when Jason Garrison was listed as a late scratch for Game 4 at Prudential Center.
 
According to Panthers coach Kevin Dineen, Garrison, who took part in the team's morning skate Thursday, had two lower-body issues and is listed as day-to-day. Garrison had missed five games during the regular-season (Feb. 12-23) with a lower-body injury.
 
"We not only missed Jason on the power-play … we missed him, period," Panthers forward Stephen Weiss said. "Not just on the power-play, but five-on-five and on the penalty kill, as well. He's a big part of our team."
 
The Panthers entered Game 4 with a power play clicking at 60-percent efficiency with Garrison in the lineup, connecting for six power-play goals on 10 chances in the first three games of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. With the 6-foot-2, 218-pound defenseman sidelined Thursday, however, the Panthers went 0-for-6 with the man advantage.
 
Garrison, who set a franchise record for defensemen with 16 goals in the regular season, was replaced in the lineup by Keaton Ellerby, who played his first game since March 15.
 
Unfortunately for the Panthers, Ellerby was forced to leave the game midway through the second period after New Jersey center Stephen Gionta checked him into the Devils bench where the open door meets the stanchion. It appeared as though Ellerby injured his left leg on the play.
 
Ellerby's status will be updated later Friday in Florida. The Panthers will host the Devils on Saturday in Game 5 at BankAtlantic Center (6:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN). The best-of-seven series is tied, 2-2.
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Thursday, 04.19.2012 / 7:15 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Garrison late scratch for Panthers

NEWARK, N.J. -- Florida Panthers defenseman Jason Garrison will be sidelined for Game 4 of his team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

Garrison was a late scratch with what the team called a lower-body injury. He was replaced in the lineup by Keaton Ellerby, who will be making his playoff debut this season.

Garrison has been a lynchpin in the Panthers' lineup this season and, in particular, the playoffs. He has one goal and two points in three games against the Devils. Garrison scored his first playoff goal and totaled 20:15 of ice time in Florida's 4-3 victory in Game 3 on Tuesday.
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Posted On Thursday, 04.19.2012 / 1:30 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Larsson still sits as Devils stick with Volchenkov

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Pete DeBoer did admit prior to the playoffs that rookie defenseman Adam Larsson could at some point receive an opportunity to crack the lineup.
 
It just hasn't happened in the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Florida Panthers. DeBoer told the media that his lineup will remain status quo for Thursday's Game 4 at Prudential Center (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, TSN2, RDSI).
 
There was speculation among the media contingent following Game 3 that perhaps DeBoer would replace struggling defenseman Anton Volchenkov in the lineup. Volchenkov has a minus-2 rating in this series and has been on the ice for nine of Florida's 10 goals through three games.
 
DeBoer didn't seem close to entertaining any thoughts, however, of replacing his veteran defender in the lineup.
 
"You look at [Volchenkov's] situation, he's had some bad luck and bad timing," DeBoer said. "He's been on the ice for nine of their 10 goals. He's had a bad run and I feel for him. It's Murphy's Law … whatever can go wrong is going wrong for him right now, and he's got to battle through that.
 
"He's a guy who has risen in the past in playoffs in Ottawa, and he's battle-tested this time of year. We need him in the lineup."
 
Meanwhile, Larsson has been a regular at practices for New Jersey during the playoffs, but, dating back to the regular season, has been a healthy scratch in eight of the last nine games. In 65 games this season, Larsson has two goals, 18 points and a minus-7 rating. He notched one assist and a plus-1 rating in three regular-season appearances against the Panthers in 2011-12.
 
Larsson missed 10 games from Feb. 4-24 with a bruised lower back after taking a hit from Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban in a Feb. 2 game at Prudential Center. The talented Swede would produce just two assists and a minus-1 rating over the next 16 games before DeBoer opted to have him sit, watch and learn.
 
"The Larsson question isn't really a factor ... he's ready to play, and we know what he can do," DeBoer said. "He's a good player and he can help us, no doubt."
 
He did play in the team's 4-2 regular-season finale against the Ottawa Senators on April 7, earning 12:39 of ice time on 17 shifts.
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale



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Posted On Thursday, 04.19.2012 / 12:56 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Clemmensen set for first career playoff start

NEWARK, N.J. -- Florida Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen is set to earn the first playoff start of his career on Thursday when he faces his former team, the New Jersey Devils, in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series at Prudential Center.
 
While Panthers coach Kevin Dineen wouldn't commit to either Clemmensen or Jose Theodore following his team's morning skate at Prudential Center, Clemmensen did skate off the ice first. The first goalie off the ice at a game-day skate is usually the starter.
 
Getting the playoff nod in the state where it all began and against one of the greatest goalies in League history will certainly be a humbling experience for Clemmensen.
 
"I think there's always a little bit of nerves regardless of the situation," Clemmensen told reporters after practice. "I believe the crowd will be rocking tonight and you can always feel the atmosphere here, so if I'm the starter, I'll be ready for that as well.
 
"It's a building that I like playing in," he continued. "I like these fans. It's always a lot of fun. I don't care how loud they boo me … I love them."
 
Clemmensen stopped 19 shots in a spectacular relief stint as his team rallied from a 3-0 deficit to earn a 4-3 victory in Game 3 on Tuesday to grab a 2-1 series lead.

Florida coach Kevin Dineen, who wouldn't tip his hand as to which goalie would start, did praise Clemmensen for the quality work he provided the team down the stretch.
 
"For two months now, Clem has been an excellent goaltender, maybe one of the top guys in the League," Dineen said. "What he does have is a tremendous amount of respect from the coaching staff, from his teammates and I think from people that know him. You can tell just from the response from the people here in Jersey that he's a hard guy to dislike, and I think as a teammate that would fit his character."
 
In addition to subbing for Jose Theodore (three goals allowed on six shots) just 6:16 into the first period on Tuesday, Clemmensen's only other playoff appearance was in relief of Martin Brodeur in Game 1 of a 6-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2006 Eastern Conference Semifinals in Raleigh. He would play the final 6:53 of that game, turning aside all three shots he faced.
 
Not only is Clemmensen 5-0-0 against the Devils in his career, including Tuesday's win, but he has yet to allow a playoff goal in two relief stints totaling 60:37 of playing time.
 
Despite his lack of playoff experience in 10 NHL seasons, Dineen wasn't at all concerned.
 
"I have no doubt that he would play well," Dineen said. "Here's a guy who's been around a long time and has played with Marty Brodeur and Tomas Vokoun, and now Jose Theodore. A guy like [Panthers goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom] could learn a heck of a lot from a guy like Scott Clemmensen. It's nice having guys not only game ready, but extremely mature professional players. It's been a pleasure dealing with all the goalies this year."
 
Some have said he has an advantage over the Devils, a team he spent five seasons with from 2001-02 through 2006-07 as a backup to Brodeur.
 
Does he think so?
 
"Maybe. I do probably know a little bit more of their tendencies having played with them, but I don't think that's a huge difference-maker," Clemmensen said. "This time of year, everyone is fighting so hard that it just comes down to winning. I think my unbeaten record against the Devils is mostly coincidence.
 
"I don't think I prepare any differently playing against these guys, want to win any more or try any harder than I do against other teams. It's so hard to win in this League, I don't care who you're playing. You go over everything at pre-scout meetings anyway … it's not something I know and am keeping to myself."
 
Devils forward Zach Parise feels Clemmensen is an even better goalie now than when he played for New Jersey.
 
"I think technically, he is," Parise said. "He played great when he was with us, but I think he's technically a better goalie now. He plays well against us, too. We'll have to make life a little harder for him."
 
Brodeur also praised Clemmensen.
 
"He's a great guy, worked really hard and is a good goalie," Brodeur said. "When I got hurt [during the 2008-09 season], he came in and, even though he didn't start the season with us, got himself back here and did really well for us. He earned a nice contract in Florida and now he's taking advantage of that."
 
Here is the probable Game 3 lineup for the Panthers:
 
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Mikael Samuelsson
Scottie Upshall - Shawn Matthias - Jerred Smithson
Marco Sturm - John Madden - Tomas Kopecky
 
Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson
 
Scott Clemmensen
Jose Theodore
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Posted On Thursday, 04.19.2012 / 12:37 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Brodeur has no doubts he'll be better in Game 4

NEWARK, N.J. -- When New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur officially is announced as the starter Thursday in Game 4 of his team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Florida Panthers (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN), it will mark his 174th consecutive postseason start.
 
"I expect to play every game, all the time, especially in the playoffs," Brodeur said. "It might not happen the rest of my career, but right now until I don't play, I expect every day that I'm going to play. That's one thing with having your own confidence."
 
Following his team's practice at Prudential Center on Thursday morning, Brodeur was asked if the Devils are facing a bit of adversity trailing the series 2-1 entering Game 4.
 
"It is definitely adversity," he said. "After six minutes and taking that lead on Tuesday, we should have had a better result and now we face adversity and we'll have to deal with it. We have to erase what we did last game and get back at it.
 
"As a team, we have to pay attention to details and special teams and individual players have to be better. Our overall team effort needs to be at a higher standard."
 
For the record, there was little to no speculation within the Devils' locker room that Brodeur wouldn't get the nod for Game 4, despite being pulled after allowing three goals on 12 shots in 22:18.
 
"It wasn't really a decision," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "This is a guy, he carried us the entire second half of the season here. He's been fantastic and it really wasn't a lot of thought put into that. I knew the moment I pulled him [in Game 3 Tuesday] that we would be going back in there [Thursday]."
 
When DeBoer pulled Brodeur just 2:18 into the second period, it marked the first time he had been yanked from a playoff game since allowing six goals on 35 shots in 53:07 in a 6-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the 2006 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
 
"For me, I know what I can do and what I can bring and I'll try my hardest all the time," Brodeur said. "I've played a long time in this League not to have doubts in my mind when I'm coming down to the end here."
 
DeBoer is confident Brodeur, who turns 40 May 6, will rebound to help the Devils even this best-of-seven series.
 
"Marty's been through everything," DeBoer said. "I think if you ask anyone how's Marty Brodeur going to respond to adversity, I think we all know the answer to that."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Thursday, 04.19.2012 / 11:59 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Devils see Game 4 as a must-win situation

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils realize the importance of squaring their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Florida Panthers on Thursday in Game 4 at Prudential Center (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN).
 
Veteran goalie Martin Brodeur feels the team has put itself in a must-win situation after losing 4-3 in Game 3.
 
"You don't want to bank on making the historical comeback when you go down 3-1 in a series," Brodeur said. "It's tough to come back from that, there's no doubt. You have to address these games as do or die and just go out and put in a good effort."
 
Does Brodeur feel getting the early lead is important? After all, the team that has taken a 3-0 lead in the previous three games has struggled to hold that advantage.
 
Florida, however, was the first to go down by three and rally for a victory, which they did in Game 3 on Tuesday. In Game 1, New Jersey opened a 3-0 lead and hung on for a 3-2 win. In Game 2, the Panthers surged to a 3-0 advantage before winning 4-2 triumph.
 
"I don't know about [getting that big lead]," Brodeur said. "It depends on how big. The game will be played the way it's played, and we'll react to it."

Devils forward Dainius Zubrus said he believes the team has dealt with adverse situations this season and this is no exception.
 
"You reach certain points where you lose two in a row and it happens throughout the season, but I don't want to say we've been there, because this is the playoffs and it's a little different," Zubrus told NHL.com. "But we can respond … we have done it. It's not the situation we want to be in after winning the first game, but this is how it is.
 
"There are things we can do better and clean up, and saying that, the belief is still there. [Thursday] is a huge game because we don't want to go down and then go on the road."
 
The only Devils not on the ice for Thursday's optional skate were Petr Sykora, Patrik Elias, David Clarkson, Andy Greene, Bryce Salvador and Marek Zidlicky. Devils coach Peter DeBoer said there would be no lineup changes, meaning rookie defenseman Adam Larsson would be a healthy scratch for the ninth time in the last 10 games.
 
Here is the projected lineup for the Devils for Game 3:
 
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
 
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 2:40 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Gudbranson having fun with first playoff experience

NEWARK, N.J. -- Florida Panthers rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson admits his experience in the Stanley Cup Playoffs has been better than expected.
 
"I think it's more than what people think," the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Gudbranson told NHL.com. "It looks a lot different on TV than when you're actually playing the game. You see the little hits and the bumps that guys get and in playoffs, and they leave a mark.
 
"In the playoffs, guys are going all out and the passion and intensity out there certainly picks up, so it's been absolutely a lot of fun."
 
Gudbranson, who was taken with the third pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, has yet to register a point through three playoff games, but he tied for third on the team with 10 hits. On top of that, he's been receiving plenty of mentoring from veteran defenseman Ed Jovanovski.
 
Jovanovski not only has a locker stall right beside Gudbranson for both home and away games, but the two are also paired together.
 
"I think the biggest thing with him is trying to relate to myself personally, and he did it at the same age that I am now," Gudbranson told The New York Times. "It's nice to be able to relate to someone with so much experience, and he does it for the whole team. He's always there for me whenever I have a question, and he's taught me to become an overall defenseman and to know when and where to be physical while also playing composed."
 
But Jovanovski isn't the only mentor. In the locker room following Florida's 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series on Tuesday, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon was explaining to his prized defender when not to engage an opponent and, rather, "skate away."
 
"The season has been great … I've been happy my rookie season and it's been better just because of the guys we have in this room and the success we've had as a team," Gudbranson told NHL.com. "For a team that hasn't been in the playoffs for 10 years, to come out and compete like we have the past three  games to put ourselves in a good position, is fantastic. But we need to keep going here."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 2:11 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Night after collapse, Devils back at practice

NEWARK, N.J. -- After suffering an excruciating loss to the Florida Panthers in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series Tuesday, the New Jersey Devils were back on the ice at AmeriHealth Pavilion Wednesday with the hope of restoring some sense of order.
 
The Devils opened a 3-0 lead 6:18 into the first period only to have the Panthers register four unanswered goals en route to a 4-3 triumph. Devils coach Pete DeBoer put the team through a pretty rigorous workout in preparation for Thursday's critical Game 4 at Prudential Center.
 
"I liked practice [Wednesday]," DeBoer said. "We came out in a good frame of mind, we were confident. Now we just need to get a win here [Thursday] night and keep moving forward."
 
The first-year coach said he didn't really need to rehash what transpired Tuesday night.
 
"We talked before playoffs that anytime you go down a playoff road, you will face adverse situations, so you need to expect them," DeBoer said. "You just don't know when, but when they come, you welcome them and handle them properly. We knew we'd be in this spot, eventually, and I think we're prepared for it."
 
DeBoer was asked if his team would be a tad concerned if they were to open a lead at any point in the remainder of the series.
 
"I'll take a 3-0 lead in a game any day," he said. "I don't care how many we've blown. You want to give me three goals, I'll take them. You have to give Florida credit, coming back like we did the other night even though we didn't do it all the way.
 
"There's really no rhyme of reason to these momentum swings," he continued. "That's the way the series is coming down. But the team that can fix those issues the quickest, is probably going to win this series so that's on us to do."
 
Ilya Kovalchuk, who has one goal and one assist in three games in the series, thought the players were sharp at practice Wednesday morning.
 
"It was good ... a nice and short practice," Kovalchuk said. "We cleaned up what we wanted to and worked on our forecheck a little bit. We'll see tomorrow."
 
Devils forward Dainius Zubrus, who has a goal and one assist in three games, feels the team will respond well, as it has the entire season.
 
"You reach certain points where you lose two in a row and it happens throughout the season, but I don't want to say, we've been there, because this is the playoffs and it's a little different," Zubrus told NHL.com. "But we can respond ... we have done it. It's not the situation we want to be in after winning the first game but this is how it is.
 
"There are things we can do better and clean up and, saying that, the belief is still there," he continued. "[Thursday] is a huge game because we don't want to go down and then go on the road."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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As a player, it's obviously a sad day, but to be on the ice with some of those guys and show our respect as both teams did around center ice, it's definitely a nice touch.

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