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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
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.\r\n\r\nNow, they\'re preparing for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against New Jersey after holding series leads of 2-1 and 3-2.
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 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 71 13 32 7 45
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 73 7 33 -1 40
J. Jagr 69 13 25 -4 38
B. Boyes 72 12 23 10 35
A. Ekblad 73 11 24 10 35
J. Hayes 64 18 13 -4 31
A. Barkov 63 12 17 -2 29
B. Campbell 74 3 21 1 24
B. Pirri 41 20 2 5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 26 17 11 .922 2.32
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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