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Panthers Wrap-Up: Devils 3, Panthers 2

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 0 2 0 0 2
Devils 3 0 0 0 3
FLA - S. Bergenheim (1), K. Versteeg (1)
NJD - P. Elias (1), PP - D. Zubrus (1), R. Carter (1)
SUNRISE, Fla (AP) - Martin Brodeur's teammates came out flying. He took care of everything else.

Brodeur stopped 24 shots for his 100th postseason win, and a three-goal first period was enough to help the New Jersey Devils spoil the Florida Panthers' long-awaited return to the Stanley Cup playoffs in a 3-2 victory Friday night.

"As a group, we've definitely got to tighten up and be aware of their skill out there. But we can take a lot of good out of that game and try to implement it out of Game 2."

- Defenseman Ed Jovanovski.
1. A Devil Of A First: Florida came out well early but still couldn't match New Jersey's intensity as the visitors bombarded Jose Theodore throughout the opening twenty minutes. The Devils put up 26 shots and scored three times to take a 3-0 lead after one period of play. The first goal came 6:31 into the game as Theodore made a couple of saves but was down on the ice and couldn't stop Patrik Elias' goal from in close. Then, the Panthers almost went unscathed on a phantom four-minute high-sticking call on Shawn Matthias (Devils player's own stick cut himself open) but the Devils made it a two-goal advantage as Dainius Zubrus scored on the rush five-hole with 3:49 left in the period and seven seconds left on the second power play. New Jersey struck again 45 seconds later as Ryan Carter stole the puck in the neutral zone and scored on the rush for a three-goal cushion.

2. Fighting Back: As much as the first period was all about the Devils, the second twenty minutes found the Panthers with success. It was pretty passing and then nice skating on a rush that gave the Panthers their first goal of the game. In the defensive zone, Mikael Samuelsson found Marcel Goc in the neutral zone who in turn found Sean Bergenheim up the right side of the ice. The winger sped in and toward Martin Broduer putting the puck top shelf and to the far corner over Brodeur's shoulder 7:44 into the second. The Cats got even closer with a power play goal of their own as Kris Versteeg drove to the front of the net, putting the puck five-hole with 4:18 left on the clock.

3. Note Enough: Only down a goal after two periods, the Panthers couldn't complete the comeback as the teams settled down in an even third period. The defenses took over as they allowed just six shots a piece and both Brodeur and Theodore had little trouble seeing the shots that were out on net. After five power plays for the Devils in the first two periods and three for the Panthers, the whistles went away as Versteeg was the only one sent to the box, going off for hooking with 4:25 left to play. The Panthers pulled Theodore for the extra attacker and despite some pressure, couldn't get a good shot on net and thus fell in the first game of the seven-game series.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@LilMissRatTrick: Watching a playoff game on TV is incredibly exciting, but actually being there in person is like no other feeling. #FlaPanthers #BelieveRed

@xLojique: Not a good start for the Panthers, but we don't give up. This one game is over, but more to be played. Come on #FlaPanthers ! WE SEE RED!

@MsAAlvarez: I have so much to say about tonight #flapanthers #Devils game but tweeter doesn't have enough characters... Just #believered

@_DaraRoss: Disappointed.... We will come back stronger Sunday night! #FlaPanthers

@TylerSmith80: Tough loss for the #FlaPanthers. Confident we can get a win Sunday and tie the series. The BAC was rockin tonight too.

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Sara Wagar: Michael Doerksen: Good try guys! Next game wreck them!

Megan McRae: Great game boys except the first period . . . Had a great time and the crowd was fantastic LET'S GET EM IN GAME 2 ON SUNDAY BOYS !

Meri Rantama: Omg it's gonna go to 7

Sara Hummer: We'll get 'em next time. :(

Eddie Castro: Tough start but I think they had some nerves to get out of there system theo didn't allow any goals in the third I think they will come out fighting next game

3. A first period to forget, the Devils scored three times in a span of 8:25 of the opening period to take a three-goal lead after the first period. Patrik Elias, Dainius Zubrus (power play) and Ryan Carter all dented the back of the net for the visitors.

12. The Panthers made their return to the post-season 12 years to the day to their last time they started a post-season series. Ironically, also against the Devils, Florida last started a post-season series April 13, 2000.

12. Recording the Panthers goals on the night, both Sean Bergenheim and Kris Versteeg hit the 12 mark for playoff totals. For Bergenheim, he netted his 12th point in 17 career games while Versteeg now has 12 goals in 51 career playoff games.

26. Whether it was the nerves or whatever else, the Panthers were on their toes and the Devils came at them, firing 26 shots on net in the opening period. That set a playoff record for most shots against in a single period, topping the previous record of 24 (second period against Philadelphia on May 9, 1996).

93. An extremely physical affair between the two clubs as they combined for 93 hits between them. Florida had the slight edge in the category, outhitting Philadelphia 49-44. Bergenheim led the way for the Cats with seven while Jason Garrison picked up six.

Dainius Zubrus
The Devils center was huge, picking up points on the first two Devils goals, posting four shots and a team-high seven hits in the victory.

 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +1, 4 Shots, 16:34 TOI
On to Game 2 for the Panthers and Devils with their second game on Sunday in Sunrise. Florida will look to both get a better start to the Game 2 as well as even the series at one game apiece before the series shifts to New Jersey for Games 3 & 4.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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