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Panthers Know They Haven't Won Anything Yet

Monday, 04.23.2012 / 3:08 PM ET / News
By Alain Poupart  - NHL.com Correspondent
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Panthers Know They Haven\'t Won Anything Yet
"The fourth one is generally the hardest one to win. It's going to be a resilient team on that side, and we've got to be resilient as well. We've got to want to win the game, but you also can't get too high from this one. We've just got to keep it going and be confident that we can win." - Kris Versteeg

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers find themselves one victory away from extending their memorable season and winning their first playoff series since 1996.

But there is no cause for celebration yet. The Panthers know putting away the New Jersey Devils won't be easy.

Florida takes a 3-2 series lead into Game 6 Tuesday at the Prudential Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN), where the teams split two games last week.

The Panthers rallied from a 3-0 first-period deficit to win 4-3 in Game 3 before the Devils recorded a 4-0 shutout victory in Game 4.

"It's going to be fun," said Scottie Upshall, who had one of Florida's goals in its 3-0 victory in Game 5 Saturday. "They're playing backs up against the wall. We know how hard they play in their building. It was a crazy atmosphere when we were there last week, and we're expecting nothing less than probably the hardest game of the series coming up."

The Panthers, who haven't won a playoff series since beating Pittsburgh in seven games in the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals, put themselves on the brink of advancing with a balanced and complete effort Saturday.

Last week, Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk stopped just short of saying the winner of Game 5 would go on to take the series, but the Panthers realize it's not that simple.

"The fourth one is generally the hardest one to win," said Kris Versteeg, the offensive star of Game 5 with the game-winning goal and an assist. "It's going to be a resilient team on that side, and we've got to be resilient as well. We've got to want to win the game, but you also can't get too high from this one. We've just got to keep it going and be confident that we can win."

Based on recent history, things would seem to bode well for the Panthers.

The Devils failed to win consecutive games in their last three playoff series and they'll have to break that streak to win this series. New Jersey also has a 2-5 record in series after being down 3-2.

Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell, however, says those numbers don't mean much.

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"I don't think that pertains to hockey as much as, say, other sports, like football," Campbell said. "They always talk about it in football. At the end of the day, teams change so much over the years. For us, I don't think those stats mean anything. If we don't go out and play one of our better games, we're not going to have success."

If the Devils win Game 6, the deciding Game 7 would be Thursday at the BankAtlantic Center.

The Panthers' last two home games have produced playoff-record crowds for the franchise, and the fans have shown their enthusiasm and support by tossing plastic rats onto the ice, carrying on a tradition that dates to the 1995-96 season.

"It was so nice playing here in front of our home fans. What an electric atmosphere that was for us," Dineen said after Game 5. "But I sure would rather wait a few days before we have to come home and play another game."

For that to happen, the Panthers will have to avoid another slow start. Twice in this series, the Panthers have fallen behind 3-0 in the first period.

That's why Dineen is focusing on the start of the game, not a possible victorious ending.

"We look at the next game and the respect that we have for our opponent doesn't trend for me to look further than the first five minutes of that game," he said. "They've overwhelmed us a couple of games in a row at the start in New Jersey and we certainly have to be prepared for the start of that game.

"Obviously, let's not kid ourselves, you're up 3-2, you'd like to be able to finish it in six. No guarantees. We'll go out and we'll play our game and we'll let the chips fall."

Author: Alain Poupart | NHL.com Correspondent

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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