The Florida Panthers' remarkable 2011-2012 season came to a heartbreaking end on Thursday night in a double-overtime Game 7 loss to the New Jersey Devils. The Panthers staged a furious comeback in the third period, and kept on the attack in overtime but the Devils would win it early in the second overtime.
The Panthers carried over the momentum from the third period at the start of overtime, creating a couple excellent scoring chances right out of the locker room. But Brodeur turned them away to keep the Devils alive. Then, the overtime took a dramatic turn when Kris Versteeg was whistled for slashing Bryce Salvador, who skated off the ice injured, grimacing and holding his wrist. It's rare for a penalty to be called in overtime of the playoffs, but it appeared Versteeg did the necessary damage to be sent to the sin bin. An animated gif of the penalty below:
The power play completely swung momentum to the New Jersey Devils, who continued to control the puck and playing in the Florida zone after the initial Panther charge to start the overtime. The Devils kept up the pressure on Jose Theodore, but the Cats' netminder held strong to keep it scoreless and send it into a second overtime.
But it was not meant to be, as the Devils closed it out just four minutes into the second overtime. Adam Henrique, who opened the scoring almost four hours earlier, finished it off with a quick strike from center ice. Henrique beat Theodore with a quick wrist shot through the five-hole. The goal was set up by the Devils forecheck along the wall, which kept the puck in the zone and allowed Henrique to find some open space and bury the game winner. Video of the goal below:
For more news, analysis, and discussion on the Panthers' playoff push, visit Litter Box Cats. For the opponent's perspective throughout the series, head over to In Lou We Trust. For all your hockey news and notes and more on each playoff series, keep up with SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.