FLORIDA LEADS SERIES 3-2
NEW JERSEY DEVILS: Florida Panthers Keep Dancing With the Devils. Jersey Facing Elimination.
Content with watching their season fizzle out from the penalty box, New Jersey is now in the bedeviling position of having to win the next two games in order to advance in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their first opportunity against the Panthers will come at The Rock on Tuesday evening. Then a possible Game Seven will take place in Sunrise, Florida, as the South Division champs own home ice advantage.
After getting shut-out by Martin Brodeur in Game Four, Florida's Jose Theodore returned the favor by stymieing the Devils in Game Five. He faced thirty shots, and stopped them all. But for David Clarkson/four shots; Patrick Elias/two shots; and Zach Parise/one shot on goal; - It was that kind of night for the Devils.
That's because New Jersey was too busy killing penalties..., again. As they have done all series, the Devils kept putting themselves on the penalty kill with six infractions in all. In the second period, Florida's Kris Versteeg made them pay. And in the end, it's all Florida would need.
Martin Brodeur was running a tight ship in spite of that goal. He made twenty-three saves through the first two periods, as Florida held a shots on goal advantage. But there were no goals for the Devils' part. Another Panther goal in the thirteenth minute of the third period, and a late shorthanded goal inside the last minute of play ended the game in a 3-0 final.
The transformed Florida Panthers are one game away from advancing to the second round for the first time since the 1995-1996 season. The Devils have not advanced to the second round of the playoffs in the last five seasons.
Losing Game Six on home ice would be a brutal way to end their season. Minimizing mistakes and not taking penalties is well within their hands. So is scoring. So, I'm inclined to believe this series will go seven. We'll find out Tuesday.