NEWARK, N.J. (CBSMiami) – The Florida Panthers will go for their second straight playoff Tuesday night in New Jersey as they battle the Devils in the opening round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The last time both teams were on the ice, the Panthers came out storming with Panthers forward Stephen Weiss notching a goal just 23 seconds into the first period. Game two’s victory by the Panthers was the first playoff victory for the franchise since 1997.
The Panthers have to feel that absent the first period of Game 1, they could possibly be up 2-0 in the series. Goalkeeper Jose Theodore was shelled for three goals in the first period of game 1, but since then has only given up two goals.
“We’ve just got to keep playing our complete game and play like we did in the first couple periods and some areas in the third period,” Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell said. “We’ve got some more work to do. I thought we changed a few things that worked out well for us in Game 2 and we’re going to have to keep adapting and trying new things as well.”
In the series, the Panthers have been getting more shots on goal on average and are scoring 0.5 goals more than the Devils. Florida has been especially dominant over the Devils when they are only the power play or trying to kill a Devils power play opportunity.
Florida is killing the Devils power play opportunities at an 87.5 percent clip. On the flip side, the Panthers are successful on the power play at a rate of 42.9 percent.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that have been there, done that,” said Stephen Weiss, who waited a decade to make the playoffs. “We’re going to be patient. It’s not going to be easy but we’re excited to go and give it our best shot and try to steal a couple there.”
Obviously, if the Devils can cut back on their penalties in the game, it could negate one of Florida’s major advantages thus far in the postseason.
The Devils, who missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 1996, have struggled at home in the postseason in recent years. They have not escaped the first round in their last three appearances, posting a 3-7 mark at the Prudential Center.
Devils goalkeeper Martin Brodeur is nearing the end of his career and in the past few seasons hasn’t been able to push the Devils over the proverbial hump, no matter how well he played.
Since 2008, Brodeur is 6-13 in playoff games with one shutout in the 2008-2009 season. Brodeur is also stopping just less than 90 percent of the shots against him, which is the lowest rate he’s had over a multi-year run for the Devils in the playoffs.
If the Panthers can keep the pressure up on Brodeur, this might end up being his final playoff run. He will turn 40 years old on May 6.
The puck drops in New Jersey at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.