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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 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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