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Panthers Look Ahead To Franchise's Second Game 7

Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 4:16 PM ET / News
By Alain Poupart  - NHL.com Correspondent
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Panthers Look Ahead To Franchise\'s Second Game 7
The Panthers will play in just their second Game 7 in franchise history, first at home when they host the Devils Thursday (8:30pm)

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- This is really nothing new for the Florida Panthers.

After holding first place in the Southeast Division for more than two-thirds of the regular season, the Panthers didn't clinch the first division title in franchise history until the final day.

Now, they're preparing for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against New Jersey after holding series leads of 2-1 and 3-2.

"We haven't made it easy on ourselves all season long, so why now?" right wing Kris Versteeg said Wednesday after the Panthers had an optional practice at their training complex. "We're excited about this.

"We're pumped. Obviously, you can't get too high after a win, you can't get too low after a loss. We've moved on from yesterday and we're excited about Game 7 now."

The Panthers were outshot 42-16 in Game 6 on Tuesday, yet found themselves with a chance to clinch the series in overtime until Travis Zajac won it for New Jersey.

It will be only the second Game 7 in Panthers history. The other came in the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals when Florida won at Pittsburgh 3-1.

"We have a good feeling for our own team and obviously for the Devils as well," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "That's what seven games does. Certainly the series has had its ebbs and flows for both teams, and I don't think it's a surprise to most people on both teams that it ended up going seven games here."

The Panthers, though, clearly were hoping to close it out in Game 6.

"When you're up 3-2, obviously you're thinking about finishing it off, but we've got to turn the page," goalie Jose Theodore said. "It didn't happen. So now it's a Game 7. That's how the League is. You look around, especially in the East, three series are going to Game 7. It's really tight games and it's really hard to predict what can happen. It's good for the game when you have Game 7s like that."

The Panthers and Devils will have to wait longer than usual to start their Game 7, with faceoff scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

Dineen said Wednesday the Panthers will be holding their morning skate at their usual time.

"A little extra time in the afternoon to kind of recharge," Dineen said. "It changes your schedule a little bit, but like everything we're fairly adaptable. You throw a little audible in there and change the time by an hour, I don't think it's going to affect the game, specifically a Game 7."

The Panthers held a team meeting Wednesday before six players took the ice for an optional skate.

Dineen said his team would need a more complete effort to come through in Game 7 the way the Panthers came through in the regular-season finale when they handled Carolina 4-1 to clinch the Southeast.

"We talked a little about that as a team today, how you approach this going into it," Dineen said. "I don't think it's going to take a massive, incredible effort by one player. Where we've had success this year is our pack mentality, where we get contributions throughout our group. If we can do that, that's where we have success.

"That was the difference in Game 6. We had players who were really going and we had some players that weren't firing on all cylinders. We're going to need everybody going and I think we've got the right group. Again, a good reflection on Dale Tallon's nomination yesterday (as one of three finalists for GM of the Year) that he brought in the right kind of people for a game like tomorrow night."

Author: Alain Poupart | NHL.com Correspondent

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 49 36 9 4 161 110 76
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
4 NYR 51 28 18 5 146 132 61
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 NYI 49 26 17 6 134 121 58
7 DET 51 25 18 8 125 130 58
8 NJD 52 26 20 6 117 118 58
9 PIT 50 25 18 7 129 128 57
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 49 23 18 8 117 128 54
12 MTL 52 24 24 4 137 141 52
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 48 16 21 12 37
J. Huberdeau 51 10 27 11 37
A. Barkov 41 15 19 13 34
J. Jokinen 51 9 24 12 33
V. Trocheck 51 17 15 4 32
R. Smith 51 16 15 12 31
B. Pirri 47 10 13 -4 23
A. Ekblad 47 10 12 23 22
B. Campbell 51 4 15 17 19
N. Bjugstad 36 9 8 -3 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 13 4 .930 2.11
A. Montoya 8 2 1 .931 1.93

 
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