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Panthers claw back from 3-goal deficit, down Devils
Newark, NJ (Sports Network) - Brian Campbell's power-play tally early in the second period was the difference, as Florida erased a three-goal deficit and hung on to post a 4-3 victory over New Jersey in Game 3 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal from Prudential Center.
Sean Bergenheim, Jason Garrison and Mike Weaver also lit the lamp for the Panthers, who now hold a 2-1 series advantage thanks to the greatest comeback in franchise playoff history.
Starter Jose Theodore was pulled after allowing three goals on six shots. Scott Clemmensen earned the win by stopping all 19 shots for the remainder of the contest.
"The story of this entire series has been momentum swings," said Clemmensen, who recorded his first career postseason victory. "We've been three goals up, three goals down and it's only three games in. We've proven we can rally, they've proven to us they can come back."
Zach Parise, Stephen Gionta and Patrik Elias scored in the game's first 6:16 for the Devils, who have lost two in a row in the set.
Martin Brodeur was yanked after giving up three goals on 12 shots in less than 23 minutes of action. Johan Hedberg took the loss after giving up Campbell's score. He made 13 saves in all.
"I don't really have an explanation," said Devils head coach Peter DeBoer. "I think we've gotta learn as a group how to play in that situation. We've been burned in two games taking penalties and they've taken full advantage."
Game 4 is slated for Thursday in Newark.
Elias -- far and away the franchise's active playoff points leader -- beat a fallen Theodore from a sharp angle along the goal line on a power play at 6:16 of the opening period, and Clemmensen was called from the bench.
The move took a little time to pay off, but it did when Bergenheim put the Panthers on the board with 3:49 left, thanks to one-timing a dump-in from the left side by Scottie Upshall that favorably kicked off the end boards.
It was a one-goal game with 7.4 seconds left, after Garrison's first-ever postseason tally, a left-point drive, sailed over Brodeur's glove for a power- play score.
Florida made it all the way back at 2:18 of the second period, as a Weaver right point shot eluded Brodeur, then Campbell gave the visitors a 4-3 edge at 6:34 on yet another power play on a wrister from the right circle.
New Jersey had a potential tying goal with 1:24 left in the stanza wiped out after it was ruled that Steve Bernier interfered with Clemmensen by falling on his leg while Marek Zidlicky's point shot hit the back of the net.
Clemmensen made nine stops in both the second and third periods to keep the hosts at bay.
Hedberg was called to the bench for an extra attacker with 1:22 to play, and the Devils worked like their namesake to try and net the equalizer.
"This won't happen again," said Campbell. "We can't just rely on being able to turn the tables. We have to have good special teams every night and we have to win that battle, but we can't expect to put ourselves in a hole every night and use the power play to get back into it."
Elias missed a chance with a half-open net at the right side with just under 30 seconds remaining, and his shot moments later from almost the same location as his goal was denied by Clemmensen, who squeezed off right post.
Just 33 seconds in, Parise converted a Ilya Kovalchuk rebound from the left side, then Gionta redirected a Zidlicky right-point drive through traffic in front for a 2-0 game at 3:27.
"I think we definitely got too excited about that three-goal lead and let them back in the game because we were being a little undisciplined," said Brodeur.
Clemmensen's only other playoff experience came as a replacement for Brodeur in a 6-0 loss to Carolina in Game 1 of an Eastern semifinal in 2006...Florida hadn't held the advantage in any playoff series since winning Game 1 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal against the New York Rangers on April 17, 1997 -- a series the Panthers lost in five games...Gionta, the brother of former Devil and current Montreal Canadiens captain Brian Gionta, registered his first career playoff goal...Upshall finished with two helpers...The Panthers, who converted all of their three power-play opportunities, improved to 6-for-10 in the series...Clemmensen was credited with a secondary assist on Bergenheim's tally.
04/17 23:57:46 ET