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Panthers Wrap-Up: Panthers 4, Hurricanes 1

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 2 1 1 0 4
Hurricanes 0 0 1 0 1
FLA - M. Goc (11), J. Madden (3), PP - S. Weiss (20), EN - M. Samuelsson (14)
CAR - PP - J. Pitkanen (5)
SUNRISE, Fla (AP) - The Florida Panthers clinched the first division title in franchise history, getting first-period goals from Marcel Goc and John Madden and 33 saves from Scott Clemmensen to beat the Carolina Panthers 4-1 and wrap up the Southeast crown on Saturday night.

"It feels pretty good. To finish it out here at home is a good feeling. I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet but it feels good just to wear a t-shirt with something on it."

- Forward Stephen Weiss on making the playoffs despite losing to Washington.
1. Capitalizing In The First: The Panthers and Hurricanes played a pretty even first twenty minutes of their game but the Panthers found themselves up two goals as they capitalized on a couple of nice moves. Florida won the faceoff in the Carolina zone allowed Dmitry Kulikov to find Marcel Goc all alone in front of the net. The forward made a move on Brian Boucher to get the goaltender down before putting it into the wide open net 4:02 in for the first goal of the contest. Then 2:41 later, the Panthers caused another in the Hurricanes zone and John Madden and Tomas Kopecky went in on a two-on-one where Madden finished off the scoring past an out-of-position Boucher. Carolina outshot Florida 13-12 but the Panthers had the 2-0 lead.

2. The Clemmer Stands Tall: Getting his fourth start with a lot on the line, goaltender Scott Clemmensen played well four the fourth straight game. Clemmensen has allowed two goals or less in each of his last four starts and he was once again huge against the Carolina attack. The Panthers backstop turned aside 34 of the 35 shots on the night, including many highlight saves. He denied Hurricanes captain Eric Staal on a wrap-around attempt in the second, got a paddle on another sure goal and was only denied a shutout bid by Joni Pitkanen's power play blast three seconds into the man advantage in the third. That made the score 3-1 after Stephen Weiss had scored to make it a three-goal advantage in the second period with a power play of his own.

3. Taking The Division: With Washington beating the New York Rangers about an hour earlier by a final of 4-1, the Panthers would have to hold on to their lead and gain at least a point. They easily did that and tacked on an empty netter by Mikael Samuelsson to make it a 4-1 final themselves. It hasn't been easy this season, no way has it been, but the Panthers ended the regular season on a high note, taking 94 points, good enough for their first Division title. After 12 years of missing the playoffs, it's got to feel great to not only get back in, but to do so by winning a division.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@Enrico056: Congratulations to #DaleTallon and the #flapanthers on winning there division and moving on to the playoffs. #DaleTallon is genius.

@DK_KESSLER: Best game I've ever been to even though I rode solo #FlaPanthers #SEDivisionChamps

@SHORTYDE82: #FlaPanthers yay we r the division champs...way to go...can't wait for the playoffs..GO PANTHERS!!!

@LSThrasher04: I've spent this season without a a favorite Eastern Conference team, but pulled for the #FlaPanthers. Maybe I'll jump on that bandwagon.

@PantherSpoon: Congrats to Tallon, Dineen and the entire @FlaPanthers organization. The Southeast belongs to #FlaPanthers. Bring it on Deboer!

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Sara Wagar: waited 20 years for this moment! PANTHER TIME!

Anthony Barbaro: YES!!!! Wish I could have seen this on TV.

Will Stennett: ‎*Single tear rolls down my left cheek*

Lisa Isler-Karney: Whoop whoop!!! Love my Panthers!!

Nathan Young: I wish I can like this 100000 times!!!! YES!!!!

1. Taking the game by a 4-1 final, the Panthers clinched their first division title as they finished two points ahead of the Washington Capitals in the division race. Winning the Southeast Division with 94 points, Florida.

9. The Panthers had some diverse scoring as nine different players got in on the action on their four goals. Leading the way was Mikael Samuelsson with three points (1-2-3) and Marcel Goc (1-1-2).

20. Scoring in the second period to give the Panthers a three-goal advantage, center Stephen Weiss recorded his 20th of the season. He becomes the third Panther player to do that this year. It's the fourth time in his career and third straight that he has notched at least 20 goals in a year.

54. Picking up the second assist on Weiss' second period goal, forward Kris Versteeg notched his 54th point of the season, a new career high. Versteeg has five points (1-4-5) in his last five games.

128. Florida did a great job atop the Southeast Division. Florida was on top the Divison for 128 days this season, including the most important one, the very last day.

Scott Clemmensen
Clemmensen was a star once again coming up with big save after big save in his fourth straight strong start between the pipes.

 35 Shots, 34 Saves, .971 SV%
The Panthers will now have several days off before opening up the first round of their Eastern Conference series against the New Jersey Devils. Florida and New Jersey had a great season series with both teams winning two games (Panthers finished 2-1-1). The Panthers and Devils actually met in the first round of the playoffs the last time Florida made the playoffs in 2000. The Devils are led offensively by Ilya Kovalchuk (83 points in 77 games), Patrik Elias (78 points in 81 games) and Zach Parise (69 points in 82 games). Between the pipes, Martin Brodeur has a 31-21-4 record with 2.41 goals against average and a .908 save percentage.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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