New Jersey Devils at Florida Panthers
3-2 Devils (2 OT), Devils take the series 4-3
Goals: Adam Henrique (regulation and overtime) and Stephen Gionta (New Jersey), Stephen Weiss and Marcel Goc (Florida)
Goalies: Jose Theodore (33/36, .917); Martin Brodeur (43/45, .956)
– Jose Theodore was back in net after sitting out game 6 with an injury, showing everyone that he is, perhaps, superhuman. Despite the three goals that got past him, he was amazing. He’s a year younger than me, so seeing him makes me feel old (so does watching Tim Thomas, who’s a year older than me).
The following things happened without my seeing them because I don’t get NHL Network and relied on the Panthers radio feed (which mysteriously turned into the Devils radio feed toward the end of the period)
– Adam Henrique, Calder Trophy nominee, made the first goal in the first 90 seconds of the game with a tip-in behind Theo. He would evetually bookend the game with the GWG in the second overtime. Also scoring for the Devils was Stephen Gionta, brother of Montreal Canadiens captain Brian Gionta.
– Former Blackhawks John Madden and Tomas Kopecky collided mid-ice, with Madden hurt badly. But in true hockey fashion, he was stitched up and went back out there to play.
Warning: if you’re averse to seeing blood on the ice, don’t watch this.
– David Clarkson became a nominee for Best Performance by a Male Actor for the dive he made behind the net. The Panthers announcers described him as falling “like he was hit with a pygmy blow dart”, and he was sent to the box for unsportsmanlke diving.
Once the Rangers-Senators game was over, the game came on NBC Sports Network, and just in time for the beginning of the second period
– Shawn Matthias would’ve had a goal if Henrique hadn’t shoved him into Martin Brodeur and turned it into a no-goal and an interference call on Matthias.
– Just when Panthers fans thought all was completely lost, Stephen Weiss sent a shot flying past Brodeur to get the Cats on the board, then Marcel Goc tied it, sending it to not one, but two overtimes. That’s when Henrique went five-hole on Theo and ended it, thus ruining my chance to see 20,000 rats cover the ice.
For the Devils, that’ll be Round 2 against the Philadelphia Flyers – April 29 on NBC. Since this matchup is the lesser of the two evils for me (I dislike all four teams for various reasons), I’ll cover it.
For the Panthers, they came a long way from being the laughingstock of the league to playoff caliber, and that’s thanks to Dale Tallon and his offseason moves last summer. Bringing such talent together couldn’t have been easy, but look at the payoff – Southeast Division Champions and a long-overdue trip to the playoffs. I have a feeling they’ll be on top again next season.