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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 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 49 16 21 11 37
J. Huberdeau 52 10 27 10 37
A. Barkov 42 16 19 13 35
J. Jokinen 52 10 25 12 35
V. Trocheck 52 17 16 4 33
R. Smith 52 16 15 11 31
B. Pirri 48 10 13 -4 23
A. Ekblad 48 10 12 21 22
B. Campbell 52 4 16 17 20
N. Bjugstad 37 9 8 -3 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 13 5 .930 2.13
A. Montoya 8 2 1 .931 1.93

 
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