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Panthers Wrap-Up: Panthers 3, Devils 1

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers
1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 1 1 1 0 3
Devils 1 0 0 0 1
FLA - PPG - S. Bergenheim (11), K. Versteeg (21), M. Samuelsson (7)

NJD - S. Bernier (1)
NEWARK (AP) - Scott Clemmensen stopped 27 shots against his former team and the Florida Panthers beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 on Saturday.

Sean Bergenheim, Kris Versteeg and Mikael Samuelsson scored for the Panthers, who have won four of six. Florida stretched its Southeast Division-lead over Washington to two points with just its second road win in 12 games.

"This was a very satisfying win because it was built around a team effort. We got a lot of quality minutes out of players. We spread some of the responsibility around the lineup."

- Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen
1. Early Start, Early Struggle: For whatever reason, the Panthers have struggled in the early going on the road following the All-Star break. In their first road game following the break, Nate Thompson scored 1:37 into the contest. In their second game, Washington's Mathieu Perrault made it a 1-0 game just 13 seconds in. While both of those games came at normal time (7:00pm start), Saturday's contest against New Jersey was different as it was the first day game of the season for the Cats. Whether that had anything to do with it, who knows, but for the third consecutive road game, the Panthers allowed a goal in the first two minutes of the game. This time, it was former Panther Steve Bernier going to the crease to redirect the puck past Scott Clemmensen 1:39 into the contest. Florida was in such a funk early going that besides trailing by a goal early, they didn't record their first shot on net until 9:02 had elapsed on the clock when Erik Gudbranson got a shot on the rush. By that time, New Jersey had posted eight shots on Scott Clemmensen.

2. Some Hot Panthers: Finally finding their legs, the Panthers got going with a couple of strong shifts midway through the first period. They would be rewarded for their efforts with about five minutes to play in the period as they earned a power play opportunity. It would take them all of 15 seconds to knot the game at one as Sean Bergenheim got his stick on Erik Gudbranson's point shot, redirecting it past Martin Brodeur with 4:52 left in the period. For Bergenheim, it was his sixth point (4-2-6) in the last six games. It was also his seventh goal in his last 10 games played as well. Florida would get their lead and eventual game-winner from the Panthers top line. After Tomas Fleischmann kept the puck in at the blueline, he found Stephen Weiss. The center's shot was blocked but found it's way to Kris Versteeg who fired a quick shot past Brodeur for the goal 7:43 into the second. Versteeg has recorded seven points (4-3-7) in the last seven games and it was his fifth goal against the Devils this season.

3. Clamping Down For The Road Win: Giving up an early goal, especially on the second shot of the game can go a number of ways. The Panthers weren't able to bounce back from an early goal against the Capitals in their last road game. Getting goals from Bergenheim and Versteeg, the defense did the rest. That was led in large part thanks to the efforts of Clemmensen. The netminder foiled several Devils chances, especially good ones on New Jersey's top players, Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and David Clarkson. After allowing 12 shots in the opening period, Florida gave up just nine in the second and seven in the third. Three of those shots in the third came on a Devils power play late in the period. Mikael Samuelsson would ice the win with an empty netter, giving the Panthers their 12th win away from the BankAtlantic Center and second in the last four games after eight straight.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@mtodd90: Soupy logged 31:57 minutes tonight and we stayed in regulation. What a freak! #FlaPanthers

@reneeb2010: I didn't even know that the #FlaPanthers played today!! And they freaking won?! Yessssss

@opiatedsherpa: Clemmensen earns a big win for the #FlaPanthers... I'm starting to reel in my uncle, my #hockeypool leader.

@GSoW27: Rats on the ice in jersey #WeSeeRats #REDvolution #FlaPanthers

@daveabrams: HUGE win for the #FlaPanthers! Even some fans in this Rangers bar were clapping for the win!

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Jeff Bye: Great game..whole team was awesome !!! Keep it up !!

Gabriel Nagy: Great game guys! Clemmer and Gudbranson are brilliant tonight! Steeger - you´re a devil a real exorcist;) Thanks for win Panthers , and please make it a 3 in a row :)

Christian Dirmann: NOW thats what im talkin bout!! Go Cats go!!

Adam Cohen: I love seeing another Panthers win before I head into work. Say what you will about this team, they've come a long way!

Sebastian Lovas: HUGE win, I actually said in november when Booth got traded that we didn't get robbed, Sammy is a quality player and he's been showing it lately. Being in first place is pretty sweet, let's just hope we continue like this.

1. The Panthers almost made it through the entire game without taking a penalty. They went the first 53 minutes without hearing the whistle to be sent to the box. Florida would get one and Sean Bergenheim was assessed the lone Panthers penalty, being sent to the box with 6:57 left in the contest for .

4. Scott Clemmensen allowed an early goal (1:39 in) but was stellar there after as he turned aside 27 shots for his 10th victory of the season. Clemmensen is now a perfect 4-0 against his former team.

5. Tied at one, the Panthers created a turnover in the Devils zone and Kris Versteeg beat Martin Brodeur with a laser. That stood up as the game-winner, giving Versteeg a team-leading five game-winners on the season. It was also Versteeg's fifth goal in four games against the Devils this season.

15. Trailing by a goal and on their first power play of the game, it took the Panthers just 15 seconds to knot the game as Sean Bergenheim tipped home an Erik Gudbranson point shot past Martin Brodeur with 4:52 left in the first period.

31:57. Losing defenseman Jason Garrison in the second period to a lower body injury, the Panthers relied heavily on veteran blueliner Brian Campbell. The Cats All-Star racked up 31:57 of ice time, a season high. That topped his previous season high by 16 seconds (31:41) when he accomplished that against Chicago on Nov. 3rd.

Scott Clemmensen
Allowed a goal on the Devils second shot of the night but stopped the next 26 shots in registering his 10th victory of the season. Kept the Panthers in it before the offense could get going.

28 Shots, 27 Saves, .964 SV%
It will be another early game on Sunday as the Panthers finish up their two-game road trip. Florida will be on Long Island to take on the NY Islanders at 3pm. New York, who also had a Saturday matinee in which they beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in overtime, enters the game at 23-23-8 but have taken points in 11 of their last 15 games (9-4-2). This will be the third meeting of the season between the two teams but the first since October 22nd. Florida shut out New York in the first game of the season 2-0 and then earned a 4-2 victory at the BanktAtlantic Center on the 22nd. The Islanders are led offensively by John Tavares who has 54 points (22 goals) in 54 games, PA Parenteau (48 points in 54 games) and Matt Moulson (48 points in 54 games). New York has used five different netminders this season but the two that have gotten most of the work have been Evgeni Nabokov and Al Montoya. Nabokov (28 games played) has a 2.19 goals against average and .927 save percentage with a 13-13-2 record while Montoya (19 games played) has a 2.56 goals against average and a .913 save percentage with a  6-5-5 record.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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