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Panthers Know They Haven't Won Anything Yet

Monday, 04.23.2012 / 3:08 PM / News
By Alain Poupart  - NHL.com Correspondent
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Panthers Know They Haven\'t Won Anything Yet
The Panthers are excited to be one win from the franchise\'s first series victory since 1996, but the players know the fourth win remains the most difficult.
"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.

PANTHERS VS. DEVILS

Cats take 3-2 series lead with 3-0 win

By Alain Poupart - NHL.com Correspondent
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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 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 49 28 13 8 145 125 64
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 49 18 22 9 110 137 45
15 CAR 48 17 25 6 104 125 40
16 BUF 50 14 33 3 94 179 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 46 16 13 -1 29
A. Ekblad 46 7 21 6 28
J. Huberdeau 43 9 17 1 26
J. Jokinen 45 4 21 -3 25
B. Boyes 44 10 12 2 22
J. Hayes 38 13 7 1 20
S. Bergenheim 35 8 9 2 17
A. Barkov 35 5 10 -5 15
B. Campbell 46 3 11 -1 14
D. Kulikov 41 1 13 -3 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 18 11 8 .920 2.42
A. Montoya 3 4 2 .891 2.96
 
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