MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For the first time since 2005, South Florida is about to experience a Game 7 in a playoff series as the Florida Panthers fight for their playoff lives against the New Jersey Devils at the Bank Atlantic Center Thursday.
Game 7 was forced after the Devils came out storming against the Panthers during Game 6 Tuesday night. Devils forward Travis Zajac slapped a wrist shot past Florida goalie Scott Clemmensen in overtime of Game 6 to win the game.
It was an especially tough loss for Clemmensen who came off the bench to start the game in place of injured Jose Theodore. Clemmensen played exceptionally well, but the rest of his teammates couldn’t keep the Devils out of Florida’s zone.
Clemmensen finished with 39 saves, including 15 in the second period alone.
“I just wanted to give us a chance to win,” Clemmensen told NHL.com. “We were able to tie it up in the second and we showed some urgency coming back. Now the advantage we have is home ice, something we earned. That said, there’s two desperate teams and anything can happen. Game 7 should be a good one.”
Florida will have to capture the desperation New Jersey played with throughout Game 6. The Panthers, at times, looked like they were trying to play not to lose rather than playing to win. Unfortunately, playing like that will typically lead to a loss.
“It was a gutsy effort and we deserved the win,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. “We came out and played a really solid game. It got away from us in the second … Florida is such an opportunistic team. But now we have the opportunity in one game to keep moving forward here.”
New Jersey’s last overtime playoff game was April 18, 2010, a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of the conference quarterfinals. The Panthers’ last overtime game was April 25, 1997 — a 3-2 conference quarterfinal-round loss in Game 5 to the New York Rangers.
Game 7, for all the proverbial marbles, will be at the Bank Atlantic Center Thursday night.