After sitting out game four and being pulled in game three Jose Theodore did what he’s done all season long when he’s been in that situation: he responded with a stellar effort. Saying that he was “motivated by Marty Brodeur’s game four performance”, Jose Theodore pitched a shutout of his own leading the Florida Panthers to a 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils. The Panthers who will get Sunday off, will travel to Jersey for game six, and a chance to close out the series and advance to the next round. Read that last sentence again!
In addition to Theodore’s superb game, Kris Versteeg added a goal and an assist in another strong effort by the hustling winger. Versteeg’s play was an example of how the Panthers played all night long. Giving New Jersey very little space to work with, by clogging up the shooting lanes, clearing rebounds, and pressuring the defence, Florida played a perfect game.
Theodore also had high praise for his teammates, as did coach Kevin Dineen, who was extremely pleased with the performances all around, especially with Erik Gudbranson and Shawn Matthias. Dineen spoke highly of the two youngsters as they seem to be growing up very quickly in these five games. Gudbranson was credited with 5 hits, and has a battle scar to prove it from a hi stick from Adam Henrique. Matthias who’s hard work finally payed off on the goal by Scottie Upshall (who also played well), most likely had his best game in a very long time.
Tomas Kopecky who was on a breakaway towards an empty net was credited with a goal, as he was hooked from behind as he tried to get a shot off. Since the net was empty with Brodeur off for the extra attacker, Kopecky received credit for the third goal of the night. The crowd and the atmosphere here at the Bank Atlantic Center was loud, and the red rally towels were waving most of the night, especially in the final minutes.
A Chicago sportscaster commented that the “Chicago Blackhawks South” just went up 3 games to 2 against the New Jersey Devils.
The Panthers will be off on Sunday, and back at practice Monday. George Richards from the Miami Herald asked Kevin Dineen what he was going to do on his day off. Dineen said he’s going fishing. Also commenting that “we need to get away from each other for awhile”. Dineen was extremely pleased with the team’s effort, and spoke highly of Theodore. “he’s a professional”.
Come back in the morning for a full recap. In the meantime, savor the win.
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