Stanley Cup Playoffs 2012: 5 Most Important Players for the Devils in Game 7
The curse of Continental Airlines Arena has been put to rest, for now anyway. The New Jersey Devils have finally won a playoff series for the first time since leaving the Meadowlands in 2007.
Adam Henrique's goal at 3:47 of the second overtime session, his second score of the night, lifted the Devils to a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers. Sixth-seeded New Jersey, which last won a Game 7 when it won its last Stanley Cup in 2003 against Anaheim, will now take on the fifth-seeded Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals starting on Sunday afternoon.
Here's five Devils skaters who helped make it all possible in Sunrise, Fla. on Thursday night.
5. Peter Harrold
The former Boston College blueliner has proven himself a valuable addition to the Devils defense after spending most of the season with Albany (AHL).
He did take a penalty that led to the Panthers' first goal Thursday, but the Devils as a whole had problems with Florida's power play all series.
Harrold finished a plus-2 in Game 7 and played solid defense. He also helped set up former BC teammate Stephen Gionta for New Jersey's second goal with a nifty shot from the right point that rebounded right to his former roommate for a 2-0 lead.
4. David Clarkson
A 30-goal scorer during the regular season, Clarkson is still seeking his first postseason score this spring. Nonetheless, he played tough down in Florida, worked the boards, and assisted on the Devils first and third goals in the deciding contest.
3. Stephen Gionta
The younger Gionta made like older brother and former Devils forward Brian, scoring two goals in the series on limited duty.
He was a key component on the fourth line with Steve Bernier and Jeff Carter. He drove to the net to chip in a rebound to put the Devils up by two goals on Thursday evening.
2. Adam Henrique
Henrique got off to a slow start in the playoffs, but the Calder Trophy finalist for best NHL rookie made up for it in New Jersey's biggest game of the season so far.
His first career Stanley Cup playoff goal just 1:29 into the game gave the Devils the early lead. Henrique's wrist shot between Jose Theodore's pads in the second OT vaulted New Jersey into this year's "elite eight".
Some might argue that he was the Devils' top player in Game 7, but there was one player who was just slightly more valuable ...
1. Martin Brodeur
The venerable netminder, who turns 40 next month, made 43 saves in keeping his team alive. Those included several huge stops in sudden death on Stephen Weiss and former Devils teammate John Madden, before Henrique's second goal ended it.
Brodeur now has 103 career playoff wins, and won his first Game 7 on the road since besting Ottawa nine years ago to put the Devils in the Stanley Cup finals.
Now it's on the second round, for the first time in five years.