NHL-Panthers overtake Devils 4-3 to grab 2-1 series lead

Reuters

Wed, 18 Apr 02:51:00 2012

The Florida Panthers clawed back from a 3-0 first-period deficit to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Tuesday and seize a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven NHL first-round playoff series.

The Devils delighted the packed Prudential Center crowd of 17,000 with three goals within the first 6:16 of the game, but Florida refused to bend and capitalised on the powerplay to take he series lead.

The Panthers scored twice on the powerplay in the last four minutes of the opening period, drawing within 3-2 when Jason Garrison beat Devils goalie Martin Brodeur with a blast from just inside the blue line with eight seconds left.

The Panthers pounced again in the second period with Mike Weaver scoring on a deflection past Brodeur after 2:18 to tie the game and send the NHL's record holder for goalie wins to the bench in favor of Johan Hedberg.

The switch did not slow the Panthers down, however, as they made it 3-for-3 on the power play when Brian Campbell scored past Hedberg 11 minutes later to give Florida a 4-3 lead.

Back-up goalie Scott Clemmensen, who replaced Jose Theodore after the three quick Devils' goals, ensured his team held the lead, stopping all 19 shots he faced.

New Jersey thought they had equalised at 4-4 in the waning moments of the second period off a shot by Marek Zidlicky but the referee ruled that Devils right winger Steve Bernier had unintentionally interfered with Clemmensen and disallowed the goal.

Game Four will be played in New Jersey on Thursday.

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