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Panthers Vs. Devils, 2012 NHL Playoffs Game 1: Cats Can't Pull Even, Drop Game 1 To New Jersey

The New Jersey Devils took a 1-0 lead over the Florida Panthers in their first-round series, winning 3-2 in Game 1 on the Cats' home ice. The Devils came in as the favorites, after finishing with eight more points in the standings than Florida. And New Jersey quickly asserted control, reeling off three unanswered goals in the first period. That would prove to be enough as Florida could never quite pull even, despite a two-goal second period. Both teams played relatively conservative in the final period and Martin Brodeur slammed the door when the Panthers increased the pressure in Jersey's zone.

Florida gave up a whopping 26 first-period shots to the Devils, and they could never quite recover from that disastrous first period. Sean Bergenheim and Kris Versteeg notched second-period goals, but Florida managed only six shots over the final 20 minutes. Versteeg was sent to the box early in the third period, which stunted the momentum Florida had built in the second period.

Florida will look to pull even in a crucial Game 2 on Sunday night at BankAtlantic center.

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.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.