SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Stephen Weiss and Marcel Goc scored third-period goals in a frantic Florida rally, and the Panthers and New Jersey Devils were tied at 2-2 after the first 20-minute overtime period Thursday night.
Adam Henrique scored in the first period and Stephen Gionta connected midway through the second for New Jersey, trying to reach the second round of the postseason for the first time since 2007. Martin Brodeur had 43 saves through the first overtime for the Devils, while Jose Theodore had stopped 33 shots for the Panthers — looking for their first series victory since 1996.
The winner gets Philadelphia in the East semifinals.
Down 2-0 entering the third period, Florida had no choice but to attack.
The Panthers thought they were on the board 1:50 into the third period when Mike Weaver's shot from the right point got past Brodeur. Shawn Matthias was whistled for goaltender interference, nullifying the goal — and further firing up the already desperate Panthers.
With Florida enjoying a 4-on-3 advantage, Weiss cut the lead in half at 5:02 of the third, burying a one-timer from the right circle after a pass from Brian Campbell. The equalizer nearly came 3 minutes later, when Weiss had another shot blocked, Scottie Upshall nearly got his stick on the rebound — the Devils' Andy Greene tied him up just enough to thwart that chance — and Versteeg's try was batted away.
Didn't matter. The Panthers kept coming. And with Marek Zidlicky in the penalty box for a delay of game call, Florida got the franchise's biggest goal in 16 years.
Shawn Bergenheim made a nifty move to get free for a shot that Brodeur stopped. The rebound rolled left, nearly on the goal line, and Goc knocked it home from an extremely tough angle to tie it at 2 with 3:28 left.
Florida took two shots in the entire second period — then took 16 of the final 18 shots of the third.
And to overtime they went.