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Panthers Wrap-Up: Devils 3, Panthers 2 (2OT)

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

1 2 3 2OT T
Panthers 0 0 2 0 2
Devils 1 1 0 0 3
FLA - PP - S. Weiss (3), PP - M. Goc (2)
NJD - A. Henrique (1), S. Gionta (2), A. Henrique (2)
SUNRISE, Fla (AP) - Adam Henrique scored his second goal of the game at 3:47 of the second overtime, and the New Jersey Devils beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 in Game 7 early Friday to advance to second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Devils wasted a 2-0 lead in the third period, then recovered and earned a matchup with Philadelphia in the East semifinals. Stephen Gionta also scored in regulation for New Jersey, which won a series for the first time since 2007.

"This is not where the hockey people predicted us to be at the start of the year. We did some good things. We're obviously disappointed not being able to move on. It's been a fun year. It's been a fun playoff in front of our fans."

- Forward Stephen Weiss.
1. Quick Strike Devils Once Again: Knowing that the Devils came out with speed right away, Florida had to be prepared for their efforts. That didn't stop New Jersey as the Devils struck early once again. This time it was 1:29 into the contest. With a lot of traffic in front of the net, Anton Volchenkov sent a shot on goal from just inside the blueline. Stationed in the slot, Calder (best rookie) finalist Adam Henrique neatly deflected the puck past Jose Theodore to give the Devils the early lead. It was the fifth time in the series that the Devils jumped on the board first.

2. Cardiac Cats Once Again: Like it was the Panthers season on repeat, at least the post-season and against the Devils, Florida found themselves trailing and trailing by two goals after two periods. Stephen Gionta scored on a nice effort on the backhand off a rebound 9:15 into the second to stake the visitors to what seemed to be a safe lead. Only putting two shots on net in the second, it looked like New Jersey would win Game 7 with ease. The Panthers had other plans however as they put the offensive pedal to the medal and blitzed the Jersey defense and Martin Brodeur with 19 shots in the third period. They beat the future Hall of Famer on two occasions, both with the Cats on the man advantage. First it was Stephen Weiss scoring with a blast from the slot on a 4-on-3 opportunity 5:02 into the frame. Then with time agonizingly ticking down on the Panthers season, Sean Bergenheim turned along the boards, took a few strides in and fired a shot on net. With a crashing Tomas Kopecky being wiped out by a defender and into Brodeur, Marcel Goc roofed the puck for the equalizer with 3:28 remaining in regulation. The two teams would hit overtime knotted at two with their seasons to be decided in sudden death.

3. Sudden Defeat Ends Post-Season Run: With each team looking to move on with a single death blow, the offenses opened up in the first overtime. Florida threw 12 shots on net while the Devils put nine shots on Jose Theodore in the 20 minutes. The Panthers had several excellent chances, putting three shots from their third line (Kopecky, Madden and Matthias) in close early in the extra period and Scottie Upshall had another great chance later in the period. It was all for naught as the two teams would head to the intermission with the game still up for grabs. In the second overtime the game-winner would be scored on what looked like a harmless dump in by the Devils. There Henrique got the puck and while in the slot fired a low shot that beat Theodore five-hole for the game-winner at the 3:47 mark. The Devils celebrated while the Panthers fell to the ice in disbelief. A valiant comeback attempt was not enough as the Devils sent the Panthers home for the rest of the summer.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@_DaraRoss: thanks @FlaPanthers for a great season! I am a proud fan! You guys played with a ton of heart! Can't wait till training camp in sept!

@RMeharey: Tough loss for the @FlaPanthers. Overall, a huge step forward this year, and they're only going to get better. Watch for the #Cats in 2013!

@rexx8: Thank you @FlaPanthers!!! Hockey is back in South Florida!!!

@Ewener: Getting swept = disappointing. Losing game 7 in 2OT = heart breaking. Nonetheless proud! Thank you #FlaPanthers

@LBooser: Thank you @FlaPanthers! What a fun season. You put up a good fight tonight. Is it next season yet??

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Laszlo Kovasznay: sad...but a fantastic effort!!!!!!!!!!!!

Marko Palonen: Thank you Panthers for a great season and an amazing playoff series. See you in October.

Valerie Denise Jones: Outstanding effort! Brought hockey to so many more Florida fans. See you next year

Ceci PantherDefender M: You guys showed heart and true fighting spirit, I went back 16 yrs! I'm a true believer in what you're going to accomplish next season, you're champs every year to me!

Maria Brown: Thank you for an incredible season. There was never a dull moment. Can't wait for next year! Go Panthers, we love you here in South Florida!

1. One shot. That's what Game 7 was resolved to and that's all it would take as Adam Henrique scored on the Devils first shot of the second overtime 3:47 in.

9. The Panthers used their deadly power play to get the game tied after trailing by two after two. Florida scored on two of their three power play opportunities as Stephen Weiss and Marcel Goc recorded the tallies. That gave them nine power play goals in the series (9-of-27, 33.3%)

19. Florida had their best period of the game in the third period, posting 19 shots on the Devils, scoring on two of them to tie the game at two.

65. The Panthers absolutely dominated the face-off circle, winning 65% of their draws as a team. Jerred Smithson led the way winning 12-of-15 (80%) while Marcel Goc finished winning 70% of his face-offs (19-of-27).

89. It didn't take long for the Devils to jump on the board as Adam Henrique scored on a deflection just 1:29 into the contest (89 seconds).

Adam Henrique
Obviously the player of the night in scoring the first goal of the game early and then recording the knockout blow with the winner in double overtime.

 2 Goals, +2, 3 Shots, 21:03 TOI
The Panthers will take a day off before coming back for one last meeting with the coaching staff while cleaning out their lockers. Then the players and coaches will head their seperate ways for the summer.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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