ECQF Game 2 Recap: “Rats,” series tied 1-1
(headline by @kastrol)
*Stars of the game were not listed on NHL.com at the time this was written.*
Peter DeBoer said the Devils needed to be greedy and try to win both games in Florida before the series headed to New Jersey on Tuesday for games 3 and 4. From the drop of the puck in Game 2, it became clear that it just wasn’t the Devils’ night. Their tough night started 11 seconds into the game, when Andy Greene was called for tripping. 12 seconds into the Panthers’ power play, Stephen Weiss scored on a rebound, and Florida was off and running. The Devils went on a power play minutes later, but failed to register a shot. In fact, neither team had a single shot on net in the final 12:20 of the first period. That reflected the quality of play, especially from the Devils. Florida came out ready to play, and the Devils did not.
The first period ended brutally for the Devils, who took two penalties on the same play. Alexei Ponikarovsky committed the first infraction, as he hi-sticked Florida’s Eric Gudbranson. As the two crashes into the boards, David Clarkson hit Gudbranson. Clarkson was called for charging, which was one of many questionable penalty calls of the night. Regardless of what the call was, the Devils were shorthanded by two players for the first 1:43 of the second period. The Panthers cashed in late in the 5-on-3, as Weiss scored on another big rebound. Shortly after the Panthers’ remaining power play expired, the Devils were put on the power play, but again failed. Special teams was not kind to the Devils all night.
The Devils struggled in the discipline department as well as in their own end for much of the first 40 minutes. Florida had puck possession much longer than the Devils. The Devils’ best chance came as Ilya Kovalchuk slid the puck from the high slot to the right circle, where Zach Parise one-timed the puck right into Jose Theodore. Theodore wasn’t tested much in the first two periods, but he stopped the 13 shots he did face in the two periods. Towards the end of the period, Marcel Goc picked the top corner above Martin Brodeur’s glove and gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead. That score held into the third period.
The third period was a completely different game, it seemed. 48 seconds into the period, Travis Zajac’s shot from close range beat Theodore cleanly. Suddenly, it was 3-1. 1:14 later, Adam Henrique stopped a clearing attempt by the Panthers, and he centered the puck to Ilya Kovalchuk, who finished the play and made it 3-2. The Devils had their chance to score the tying goal, as they controlled the first half of the third period, and Theodore gave up rebounds, but the Devils simply didn’t have enough to tie the game. They fell, 4-2 (Florida added an empty netter in the final second of the game), and the Panthers tie the series. It was Florida’s first playoff victory in 15 years.
Game notes: Anton Volchenkov was on the ice for both Panthers goals tonight. He’s been on the ice for each of the 5 Florida goals overall in the series so far. The Devils’ penalty kill set a new NHL record in the regular season at a success rate of nearly 90%, but they’ve killed just 4 of 7 power plays against so far. The Devils power play is just 1-for-8 in the series through two games. There were 102 combined hits in the game (52/50 Devils), which was the most of any playoff game so far this season. The Devils put 25 shots on Theodore in Game 2, one short of the 26 shots they registered in the first period of Game 1.