Devils Force Game 7 vs Panthers
Though missing chances to build on-ice chemistry with his fellow top-line teammates due to injury, Travis Zajac saved the Devils season by scoring 5:39 into overtime as New Jersey evened its best-of-seven series with the Florida Panthers 3-2, in Game 6 at the Prudential Center.
It marked the second career overtime playoff goal for Zajac, who missed nearly the entire season with an Achilles injury.
Zajac, who had seven contests in the regular season to work with the Devils' two top players, finally had a chance to skate with the top line, with Ilya Kovalchuk feeding the 26-year-old center with a cross-ice pass.
Zajac, who sat out one shift in the middle frame after "tweaking something", ripped a low wrister that got past Scott Clemmensen and into the far side corner.
Zajac, who tallied two goals and six points in 15 regular-season games, now has three goals and six points in six playoff tilts this spring.
Devils top sniper Kovalchuck, who turned playmaker on Zajac's winner as he skated across the Florida blue line and drew the Panthers defense towards him, redirected a Zajac pass from atop the crease for a power-play goal at 4:21 of the second period.
Steve Bernier also lit the lamp in regulation for the Devils, whose reinvigorated offense helped stave off another early postseason exit. They posted a 42-16 shot advantage over the Panthers.
Martin Brodeur did his part in keeping his club alive, as he notched the 13th overtime win of his career after allowing two goals on 16 shots for the victors.
The Panthers, who are attempting to capture their first playoff series since 1996, received goals from Kris Versteeg and Sean Bergenheim. Clemmensen, who took over starting goalie Jose Theodore, stopped 39 shots in defeat.
The Devils, who have not made it past the opening round of the postseason since 2007, will try to take the series in a decisive Game 7 in Florida.
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