The season finale came and went, and it was just as exciting as everyone had hoped. Not only did a selection of fans in the crowd win $50,000 worth of prizes, but they also went home with a Panthers’ 3-2 win over the Devils. Keep reading past the break for the full recap.
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A Brief Overview
The Florida Panthers wanted to end their season with a bang, and they clearly did not disappoint; They finished with a 3-2 win over Jaromir Jagr’s former team, the New Jersey Devils. Jordin Tootoo of the Devils started off the scoring early in the second at 1:50, and the Panthers struck back at 11:08 with a a back-door goal by Dave Bolland, which was assisted by Brad Boyes and Jussi Jokinen. Jimmy Hayes got a good look at the Panthers’ second goal, but it was waved off due to goaltender interference. At 7:59 into the 3rd period, Huberdeau took the lead with his 15th goal, which was assisted by his fellow linemates, Jagr and Barkov. The Devils tied it up just over 3 minutes later with a goal from Damon Severson. However, things did not stay tied for long as Jaromir Jagr scored on the power play just over a minute later. The goal was assisted by Dmitri Kulikov and Aaron Ekblad, who ended the season with a respectable 39 points. That goal was all the Panthers needed to secure a 3-2 win.
Milestones on Milestones on Milestones
Tonight was a night of milestones for Jaromir Jagr. This was Jagr’s 1,550th game, which was enough to allow him to surpass Alex Delvecchio for sole possession of 11th place on the list of most NHL games played. With an assist on the Huberdeau goal, Jagr took sole possession of 6th place on the NHL’s list of all-time assists with 1,080. Jagr’s power play goal allowed him to tie Wayne Gretzky (yes, you heard that right) for 14th place in all-time power play goal with 204. All of these records, as well as his skillful gameplay (1 G, 1 A, 3 Shots, 18:04 TOI), earned him the first star in tonight’s game. Al Montoya was awarded the 2nd star of the game after he stopped 31 of 33 shots on goal and maintained a cool .939 save percentage. The 3rd star went to Jonathan Huberdeau, who scored 1 goal on his only shot in the game, and recorded 18 minutes and 20 seconds of ice time.
Defensive Play of the Game
After Steve Bernier injured Steven Kampfer with a nasty knee-on-knee hit, Petrovic came to protect his teammate and even ended up taking on both Bernier and Adam Henrique in a short-lived scrum. Petrovic, Bernier, and Henrique were all given game misconducts for the altercation.
Dimitri Kulikov’s poke check prevented a shot on goal after the Devils got in on a breakaway late in third as well.
Highlight of the Game
With just over one minute left in the game, the Devils decided to pull their goalie (Cory Schneider, .889 SV% tonight). During this time, the Devils had a few great scoring chances. If it wasn’t for the masterful goaltending by Al Montoya, the incredible goal-line save by Brian Campbell’s stick, and some help from the goal post, the game almost certainly would not have ended in regulation.
With both teams out of the playoffs, this game did not have any major effects. However, it was truly a character win for the Florida Panthers, and it was definitely an event that will foreshadow the years to come. Next year, the Panthers are going to be a team to watch with so much young talent that is only going to continue to grow. The Panthers closed out the season at 91 points, which is good for a 25 point improvement over last year and the largest improvement of any team this season. Tonight’s contest left the Cats on the Prowl staff very anxious for the next season to start.
Is it October yet? Be sure to stay tuned for plenty of off-season coverage, including the playoff run of the Rampage, the draft, player signings and trades, and more.
Check out the NHL video recap by clicking here.