Rapid Reaction: Devils 3, Panthers 2 (OT)
April, 24, 2012
By Mike Mazzeo | ESPNNewYork.com
Recap | Box score | Photos
WHAT IT MEANS: There will be a Game 7.
Travis Zajac scored 5:39 into overtime and the Devils evened their best-of-seven first-round series with the Panthers at three games apiece, beating Florida 3-2 in Game 6 on Tuesday night in front of a sellout crowd at Prudential Center.
The Devils are now 5-3 in Game 6s all time when trailing 3-2. They are 2-2 in ensuing Game 7s.
MARTY! MARTY! Martin Brodeur wasn't tested often, but when he was, he came up big. His best save of the night came with 2:31 remaining in regulation, when he robbed Mikael Samuelsson with his pads to send the game into overtime. Brodeur wound up making 14 saves.
GOALVALCHUK: Ilya Kovalchuk has been invisible for parts of this series. But the superstar left winger wasn't invisible on Tuesday night. At 15:39 of the second period, Kovalchuk snuck in from the left side, went backdoor and buried Zajac's pass from behind the net at the left post. It was his third goal of playoffs, came on the power play and gave New Jersey a 2-0 lead.
Kovalchuk also fed a cutting Zajac for the winner at 5:39 of the extra session. It was Zajac's third goal of the series.
BERN BABY, BERN: Steve Bernier struck first for the Devils with 3:23 left in the first period. After Peter Harrold kept the puck in at the point, the defenseman took a shot that was deflected on goal by Ryan Carter from the slot. Bernier corralled the rebound and threw the puck back toward the net from a sharp angle near the red line. It trickled under Scott Clemmensen (39 saves), giving New Jersey a 1-0 lead. The Devils outshot the Panthers 13-6 in the opening frame.
COMEBACK KIDS: The Devils outshot the Panthers 16-4 in the second period, but Florida tied the game on its first two shots of the frame. Kris Versteeg (third goal) scored from the high slot to bring the Panthers within a goal. Sean Bergenheim (third) knotted things at 2 when he buried a rebound at the right post. Bergenheim appeared to take down Kovalchuk at the other end of the ice, but no call was made. The Panthers got a 4-on-2 odd-man rush the other way, which led to the left winger’s tying tally.
SAVIOR: The Devils nearly had a 3-0 lead at 5:35 of the second, but Clemmensen reached back to stop the puck just short of the goal line after David Clarkson's shot hopped over his stick. The former Devils netminder also robbed Alexei Ponikarovsky on the doorstep with a pad save to keep things tied midway through the third. Clemmensen had 34 saves in the first 60 minutes.
SHORTHANDED: The Panthers were without power-play quarterback Jason Garrison and No. 1 goaltender Jose Theodore due to injuries.
UP NEXT: Game 7, Thursday night at BankAtlantic Arena in Sunrise, Fla.