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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 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
5 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
6 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 55 25 24 6 154 169 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 51 17 21 14 38
J. Jokinen 54 11 27 12 38
J. Huberdeau 54 10 28 12 38
V. Trocheck 54 17 18 3 35
A. Barkov 43 16 19 13 35
R. Smith 54 18 16 12 34
B. Pirri 50 11 13 -4 24
A. Ekblad 50 10 13 20 23
B. Campbell 54 5 17 20 22
N. Bjugstad 39 9 10 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 24 13 5 .928 2.17
A. Montoya 8 3 1 .929 2.01

 
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