Big Story: The rats rained onto the ice at BankAtlantic Center on Saturday when the Panthers rebounded from a 4-0 loss in Game 4 with a scintillating 3-0 win in Game 5, moving one victory from their first series win in 16 years. Kris Versteeg's power-play goal in the second period proved decisive and Jose Theodore made 30 saves for the second postseason shutout of his career. Scottie Upshall and Tomas Kopecky also scored for Florida, which last celebrated a series victory in the 1996 East Final.
Devils: Many Devils' players were disappointed with the lack of compete level against the Panthers in Saturday's loss. After going 2-for-4 on the power-play in Game 4, the Devils went scoreless in three opportunities while generating six shots on Saturday. A victory on Tuesday would assure the Devils their first Game 7 since their 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
"We didn't compete hard enough," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "We have to win two in a row and that's the way it is now. We'll be ready to play Game 6."
Panthers: Theodore, whose other playoff shutout came on April 19, 2004 for Montreal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Boston, was back in net for the first time since being pulled 6:16 into the first period in Game 3 last Tuesday in Newark. Theodore's only other playoff shutout was April 19, 2004, 2-0 for Montreal at Boston.
Theodore didn't practice Tuesday morning, however, and although coach Kevin Dineen said it was still possible he could play, he termed the goalie "tender" and ex-Devil Scott Clemmensen was preparing to be the starter. Clemmensen shut out the Devils in relief of Theodore in a Game 3 win by Florida and was the starter two nights later in a 4-0 loss.
Who's Hot: Versteeg, who had a goal and one assist on Saturday, has two goals and four points through five games of this series. Including regular season and playoffs, Versteeg has seven goals and 10 points in nine games against the Devils in 2011-12.
Injury Report: For the Panthers, Keaton Ellerby (lower body) is day-to-day, while forwards Matt Bradley (concussion) and Jack Skille (shoulder) and defenseman Jason Garrison (lower body) are out. … Defenseman Henrik Tallinder (blood clot) and center Jacob Josefson (broken wrist) are out for the Devils.
Stat Pack: Florida has outscored New Jersey by a combined 7-1 in the second period of this series.
Puck Drop: "[Florida] did a lot of things better than us [in Game 5] and it was a good lesson for us," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "We didn't do enough to score. We need to win more offensive-zone battles and get more pucks to the net. It sounds simple, but we have to find a way to do that."