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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final

Plenty of overtime again this spring

Tuesday, 04.24.2012 / 11:59 PM

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist / Bracket Challenge Blog

If playoff overtime is your thing, this year's opening round has been a moveable feast.

New Jersey's 3-2 victory against Florida on Tuesday marked the 14th time in 45 games so far during this spring's Stanley Cup Playoffs that the teams were unable to decide matters in the regulation 60 minutes. That equals the number of first-round overtime games a year ago, which ended with 22 of the 89 games being decided in OT. It's also the same number of first-round overtimes as 1993, which ended with a record 28 games going into OT. The record for the most first-round OT games is 15, set in 2001.

Extra time has not been kind to home teams this spring. The Devils became only the fourth home team in the 14 OT games to win when Travis Zajac scored at 5:39 of the first overtime.

Defying the odds -- For the second year in a row, three of the four first-round series in the East will go to the limit. But in forcing a Game 7, the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils did it the hard way.

Henrik Lundqvist
Goalie - NYR
RECORD: 3-3-0
GAA: 1.82 | SVP: 0.942
All three teams sent their series to the limit by winning Game 6 after going down 3-2 by losing the fifth game. Of the 324 previous teams that trailed entering the sixth game of a series, just 43.2 percent (140) were able to force Game 7 by winning.

The 140 teams that won to push the series to a seventh game are 67-73 in the deciding games.
In the case of the Devils, who had to go into overtime to beat Florida 3-2 on Tuesday night, it's their first Game 7 since the opening round in 2009 -- and that's a game they'd rather forget. New Jersey led 3-2 with less than 90 seconds remaining before Carolina scored twice for a 4-3 win.

The Devils haven't won a Game 7 since beating Anaheim 3-0 in the deciding game of the 2003 Final and are 6-7 all-time in Game 7s, including 3-5 on the road.

For the Panthers, who haven't made the playoffs since 2000, it's the first Game 7 since they beat Pittsburgh 3-1 in the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals -- the only time in their six previous trips to the playoffs that they've gone to a seventh game. They are hosting one for the first time in franchise history.

Rare task for Caps -- The Washington Capitals will do something on Wednesday they've done just once since entering the NHL in 1974 -- play a Game 7 on the road.

The Caps have has gone to a seventh game nine times previously, but only their Patrick Division semifinal game against Pittsburgh in 1992 was played away from home. The Caps lost that game 3-1 -- and they've also dropped six of the eight Game 7s they've played at home, including three of four since 2008.

Boston, which host the Caps in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, is 12-10 all-time in Game 7s, including an 11-6 record at home. They won twice at home in Game 7 last spring before beating Vancouver on the road in Game 7 to win the Cup.

Martin Brodeur
Goalie - NJD
RECORD: 3-2-0
GAA: 2.22 | SVP: 0.911
Rare OT win for Brodeur -- For all of his greatness, overtime in the playoffs has never been Martin Brodeur's strong suit. Tuesday's win was only his 13th victory in 34 career postseason overtime games. It was his first overtime win at home since the Devils beat Ottawa in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2007 and his seventh in 15 OT games in New Jersey.

Tuesday's win also marked the first time Brodeur has won in OT to keep New Jersey from being eliminated. It also ended Brodeur's nine-year losing streak in elimination games -- he and the Devils hadn't won to avoid elimination since that Game 7 win against Anaheim in the 2003 Stanley Cup Final.
 
Overtime isn't kind to Panthers -- Florida doesn't have much experience in playoff overtime -- and even less in winning after regulation.

Tuesday's game was just the sixth overtime game in Florida's slender postseason history. The Panthers won the first two, both against Philadelphia in the 1996 Eastern Conference Semifinals, but have dropped the last four. The loss to the Devils was their first playoff OT game since a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the first round in 1997.

Nor were the Panthers were any great shakes in overtime during the regular season. They played eight games that were decided in OT in 2011-12 -- and lost seven of them.

It's hard to walk into that locker room and look those guys in the eye when they've played -- clearly, that was our best game we've played in the series -- and I thought we deserved a better fate tonight.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on his team's 3-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 on Sunday