Weiss guides Panthers to first playoff win since '97
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Stephen Weiss netted a pair of power-play goals as the Florida Panthers earned their first playoff win in 15 years with a 4-2 decision over the New Jersey Devils in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Florida's last victory in the postseason came on April 17, 1997 against the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the conference quarterfinals.
"It's nice to get the monkey off your back," Weiss said about the Panthers' victory.
Weiss' tallies were the first two playoff goals of his 10-year career. This is his first time in the playoffs.
Marcel Goc and Tomas Fleischmann also lit the lamp for the Panthers, while Jose Theodore made 23 saves as Florida knotted the series at a game apiece.
Game 3 will take place in New Jersey on Tuesday.
Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk scored for New Jersey, which had its seven- game win streak -- including the final six games of the regular season -- snapped.
Martin Brodeur stopped 20-of-23 shots in defeat.
"I think when we play the way we are capable of playing we're a better team than them," said Zajac. "We have just got to stick to our game and do what makes us successful."
New Jersey entered the third period trailing 3-0, but got on the board just 48 seconds into the frame when Andy Greene chipped a loose puck near the left point to Zajac in the left circle and he snapped a shot through Theodore's legs.
About a minute later, Panthers forward Mikael Samuelsson stole an errant pass at his own blue line and raced down the ice on a breakaway.
Brodeur stopped Samuelsson's backhanded attempt with his glove and sent the puck down the ice, resulting in Adam Henrique grabbing a Florida clearing attempt at the left boards and sending a pass towards the net that Kovalchuk redirected into the net at the 2:02 mark to bring New Jersey within 3-2.
The Devils then supplied almost constant pressure for the remainder of the game but could not net the equalizer as Theodore made 10 saves in the third period, including a point-blank stop of Zach Parise in the closing moments after the Devils pulled Brodeur for an extra attacker.
Fleischmann fired the puck into the empty net with less than a second to play to account for the final margin.
"We didn't panic when they scored two quick goals. That's playoff hockey right there and you have got to stick with it and have confidence," said Theodore.
Greene was whistled for tripping just 11 seconds into the game and the Panthers took advantage just 12 seconds later when Samuelsson sent a wrister on net from the left point that Brodeur kicked aside, but Weiss was there to lift the rebound under the crossbar from the right of the net to put Florida on top.
New Jersey nearly tied the game seven minutes later when Kovalchuk followed a Parise blocked shot, but his rebound attempt deflected off the post to keep the Devils scoreless.
Florida's Dmitry Kulikov was then sent to the penalty box for a delay of game penalty for shooting his clearing attempt over the boards. However, the Devils could not muster much offense and would not register a shot on the man advantage.
The Panthers carried a 5-on-3 power play into the second period after New Jersey's Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson were called for high-sticking and charging penalties, respectively, with 17 seconds left in the first period, and jumped out to a 2-0 lead 1:12 into the middle stanza when Weiss cleaned up another rebound off a Goc shot from the top of the right circle.
The Devils' Steve Bernier was denied on a short breakaway after New Jersey failed to score on another power play early in the second period before Goc's wrister from a sharp angle to the right of the net handcuffed Brodeur and snuck under his left arm and into the short side of the net with 5:21 left in the second, giving Florida a three-goal advantage heading into to third period.
Florida snapped a string of eight straight postseason losses...Theodore had not earned a win since March 17 prior to Sunday's game...Brodeur fell to 5-1 in his career against the Panthers in the playoffs...Florida went 2-for-4 on the power play, while New Jersey went 0-for-2 on the man advantage.
04/16 00:08:04 ET