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For Florida Panthers, a Little Rest for the Weary in Raleigh



Florida panthers
Jack Drury of the Hurricanes and Florida’s Eric Staal watch the puck head up the ice during the fourth overtime of Game 1 on Friday morning in Raleigh. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

The Florida Panthers joked around about all the rest they got before opening the Eastern Conference finals against the Carolina Hurricanes.

No one is laughing about that now.

They needed it.

It took about a week after Carolina ended its series against New Jersey and the Panthers finished off Toronto before their series started Thursday night in Raleigh.

The two teams ended up playing more than two games on Thursday as Game 1 was not decided until Matthew Tkachuk scored in quadruple overtime — 12.7 seconds before a fifth overtime was needed.

While both the Florida Panthers and Carolina had scoring chances as the game wore on, it was mostly because of the slower pace of play allowing opportunity in the offensive zone.

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Florida had been held to 10 shots on goal in the final two periods of regulation, mustering just 2 in the third.

But in the overtimes, Florida was aggressive and had a number of good chances and ended up outshooting the Hurricanes 40-34in the final four periods of play.

“Mentally, we were still having fun, joking out there and I thought most of overtime we pretty much took it to them,’’ Brandon Montour said. “We worked to our advantage, had so many chances to finish it. Obviously they had a tremendous goalie there. Ever since training camp, Paul put us through the ringer and there are so many fit guys who like to push it off the ice and on the ice. I think that translated.’’

Both teams took Friday off and were feeling it a little a few hours after it was finally complete.

“It is the same process and routine we have had the whole playoff only last night was a little later than most games,’’  Eric Staal said. “So you get to bed a little later, sleep a little less. It’s all about recovery, remembering the good and trying to correct some of the stuff we did not do as well. …

“The bus ride was more quiet than usual. That is pretty normal when you exhaust that much energy into a game like that.  Even the celebration after we scored, a lot of guys just wanted to get their gear off and start recovering.’’

Florida coach Paul Maurice said that play of the game would lead him to leave out anything after the first overtime when cutting up film of Game 1 as it really was not indicative of how things went for the first 120 minutes.

“We were running out of things to say going back into the room,’’ Maurice said. “What do we say now? They had heard everything. In the video of the game, it hit a breaking point where both teams were in a survival mode and waiting for a break. There were a lot of pucks deep, a lot of simple plays and then a line change. Periods 5-8 won’t look like the next game.”

In total, the Panthers and Hurricanes played 139:47 of hockey between Thursday and Friday, with the elapsed time from puck drop to Tkachuk’s game-winner going 5:44.

Sergei Bobrovsky (63 saves) and Frederik Andersen (57) played all of it save for brief moments before a power play.

Maurice said Friday that he had “no concerns” when it came to Bobrovsky although Carolina’s Rod Brind’Amour said he was considering going with Annti Raanta in Game 2.

“He is another unique guy that we have and his routine (Friday) will be full,” Maurice said. “It’s not the No. 1 rule in coaching, but 2 or 3 is ‘do no harm.’ I’m not taking him out.”

Said Brind’Amour: “That’s a lot of wear and tear on everybody but especially goalies. … We’ll definitely give him a day to just try to recover.”

Players who spoke on Friday shed some light on what was going down in the cramped visitors’ room in Raleigh as the Florida Panthers tried to stay fresh and hydrated during the intermissions.

Staal said he avoided bananas but Montour — who led all skaters with 57:56 of icetime — munched on a few here and there.

The Panthers and their medical and performance training staff were working overtime themselves, making sure players were staying hydrated with Gatorade-type drinks as well as powders which replace salt.

Fruit and other snacks were available throughout the game.

The equipment staff was swamped trying to dry out equipment and gloves as best they could then stayed after the game to make sure everything is ready for the team this morning when they return to PNC Arena for morning skate.

“The training staff, for both teams, do a phenomenal job of doing everything they can, running in all directions to get you whatever you need,” Staal said.

GAME 2 (Panthers Lead 1-0)
  • When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh
  • TV: TNT
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM, WPOW 95.6 FM2, WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Series Schedule — Game 1: Florida 3, @Carolina 2; Game 2:Saturday at Carolina, 8 (TNT); Game 3: Monday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 4: Wednesday, May 24 at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 5*: Friday, May 26 at Carolina, 8 (TNT); Game 6*:Sunday, May 28 at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 7*: Tuesday, May 30 at Carolina, 8 (TNT). *If Necessary
  • Season Series: (Carolina won 2-1): @Florida 3, Carolina 0 (Nov.9);@Carolina 4, Florida 0 (Dec. 30); Carolina 6, @Florida 4 (April 13)
  • All-Time Regular Season Series: Carolina/Hartford leads 71-46-10, 11 ties
  • Postseason History: First Meeting
  • How They Got Here — Carolina: d. New York Islanders in 6; d. New Jersey Devils in 5. Florida: d. Boston Bruins in 7; d. Toronto Maple Leafs in 5.

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