After a crushing defeat Tuesday evening in Game 3 after going up by three goals, EARLY... the horrific display of officiating by the referee's would be the ultimate downfall of New Jersey. Florida managed to go 3/3 on the powerplay scoring 4 unanswered times to pull out the dramatic victory over the Devils. Being in attendance for the game, my first ever playoff game with my girlfriend, I was utterly disgusted with the lack of calls that were just missed by officials on blatent penalties for Panther players. Tonight on the other hand, would be a COMPLETELY different story!
The first period tonight, summarized with one word: defensive. 10 shots a piece, no goals, and one Florida powerplay would be seen during the duration of the period. The Devils looked good, REALLY GOOD for that matter. New Jersey had a sense of control throughout the game as though they were in the drivers seat, start to finish. Sitting at home watching the game, I felt comfortable, and positive, DESPITE watching Brodeur two nights earlier get the hook after blowing a three-goal lead to the very same Panthers hockey club. Marty played a full 60 minute game tonight, from opening faceoff until the final horn blew at the conclusion of the game; Brodeur was on a mission. Throughout the game, NOT just the first period, Marty recorded save after save and not just chinsy little saves, BIG CLUTCH saves by the 39 year old. Devils D-Man Peter Harrold got the lone penalty, an interference call a few seconds past the 7 minute mark would be killed by the rather sluggish penalty kill unit of New Jersey leading the way for a perfect 100% PK% on the evening for the Devs. Both clubs would hit the locker rooms scoreless after 20 minutes at The Rock.
A gift from above! A successful second period by the good guys! FINALLY! New Jersey would hit the man advantage about a quarter of the way through the middle period when Panther Keaton Ellerby would be called for a duece after a hi-stick and boy oh boy did this penalty come back to bite the Cats you-know-where! 1:30 minutes into the kill for Florida, the 6x4 foot brick wall behind Scott Clemmensen would be penetrated on not one, but TWO re-directs! A blast from the blue line by Marek Zidlicky would be tipped infront by Zajac, and then finished off as it was re-redirected up and over the glove of the Panthers netminder by the captain, Zach Parise! ZACH ATTACK ANSWERS THE CRITICS! IN the pre-game show, Ken Daneyko discussed with Deb Placey how the Devils captain and alternate captain, Ilya Kovalchuk would need to rise to the occassion this evening if New Jersey wished to keep their playoff hopes alive and avoid a 3-1 series defecit. Parise's goal was his 2nd of the playoffs at 6:08. IT'S A POWERPLAY GOAL! (I am hoping you Devils fans got my Sam Rosen reference right there). The scoring would come to a hault until New Jersey would resume its goal barrage in the 3rd. As for the penalties, each team would send one more man to their respective boxes; Zidlicky for New Jersey at 8:39 for hi-sticking followed up by a tripping call on Steven Weiss at 15:06 (Weiss' penalty was served by teammate Tomas Fleischmann). Both penalties were killed off. The Devils had the lead through two periods with 20 more minutes left to play!
CRUNCH TIME! A one goal game, a close one at that! Ultimately in the hands of Florida & New Jersey's goalies, former teammates. The teacher versus his apprentice. The lead would steadily increase between the opening draw and the half way point in the period. New Jersey goal! Support by Steve Bernier! A Bernier-Blast up and over the shoulder of HIS former teammate would increase the lead, New Jersey 2-0 Florida. Finding his way back onto the score sheet, the kid, Steven Gionta was credited with the primary assist after recieving a dump pass from the crease, a saucer pass from Martin Brodeur, his 2nd assist of the playoffs! Just over a minute later, the fans beginning to calm down a bit from the excitment of the Bernier goal, a wrap around move by David Clarkson would result to a feed from Clarky, centered to Travis Zajaz for a goal that'd put the Devils up by 3 with plenty of time left in the third. Zajac's goal, his 2nd of the playoffs would come from a well overdue David Clarkson and Jersey defenseman, Bryce Salvador. Almost 5 minutes later, the last (but simply not the least) goal would come from yet, ANOTHER Devils forward! The REAL King, King Kovy put a shot through Clemmensen on the powerplay! Que the Sam Rosen reference, IT'S A POWERPLAY GOAL! New Jersey's 4th goal scored by Ilya Kovalchuk was put up on the man advantage, the team's second of the night, assisted by Peter Harrold and yet again, Bryce Salvador (a player I see to be a bit of an unsung hero through 4 games). The one part of the third period I haven't necessarily focused on, was the number of penalties assessed. New Jersey was called for 7 penalties, while Florida got called for 4. In order, penalties were:
NJD Ryan Carter
: ROUGHING - 2 MIN
|06:39||FLA Erik Gudbranson||: BOARDING - 2 MIN|
|09:29||NJD Anton Volchenkov||: ROUGHING - 2 MIN|
|09:46||FLA Steven Weiss||: SLASHING - 2 MIN|
|12:31||NJD David Clarkson||: CHARGING - 2 MIN|
|15:51||FLA Jerred Smithson||: CROSS CHECKING - 2 MIN|
|15:51||NJD Alexi Ponikarovsky||: ROUGHING - 2 MIN|
|19:05||NJD Steve Bernier||: ELBOWING - 2 MIN|
|19:05||FLA Marco Sturm||: UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT - 2 MIN|
|19:39||NJD Dainius Zubrus||: HOLDING - 2 MIN|
|19:39||NJD David Clarkson||: MISCONDUCT (10 MIN) - 0 MIN|
A 2/4 night on the man advantage, killing all 6 powerplay opportunities Florida was credited with, taking 27 shots punching 4 past Clemmensen, and watching Martin Brodeur shut down all 26 shots on goal breaking Patrick Roy's all-time NHL record for shutouts in the post season, recording his 24th of his career, would manage to bring the series to a stale mate heading into a Game 5, Saturday evening at 6:30pm in Sunrise, FL at the BankAtlantic Center.
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