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Henrique stars for Devils in a 2OT thriller, 3-2

Associated Press Published: April 27, 2012

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Jose Theodore thought Adam Henrique was going high. The rookie went low.

And with that, the New Jersey Devils went to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Henrique scored his second goal of the game at 3:47 of the second overtime to give the Devils a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers early Friday, sending New Jersey into a second-round series starting Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"Got a pretty good bounce," Henrique said. "Found myself alone and tried to get it on net."

He did a lot better than that. Theodore said afterward he didn't have a great look at the final shot.

"I kind of lost it," Theodore said. "I thought he was going high. I didn't really see it through. And he beat me with a good ol' five-hole shot."

Just like that, the Devils were winners of a postseason series for the first time since 2007. And with the game ending in the early hours of April 27, it marked the 20th anniversary of Martin Brodeur's first postseason appearance in goal for New Jersey.

Henrique doesn't remember Brodeur's debut. After all, he was only 2. But this night, that'll be unforgettable.

"Pretty cool, I guess," said Brodeur, who stopped 43 shots.

Stephen Gionta also scored in regulation for New Jersey, which wasted a 2-0 lead in the third period.

Stephen Weiss and Marcel Goc scored third-period goals for the Panthers, and Theodore made 33 saves. The Panthers made a surprising run to the Southeast Division title this season, earning their first postseason berth in 12 years.

"This is not where the hockey people predicted us to be at the start of the year," Weiss said. "We did some good things. We're obviously disappointed not being able to move on. It's been a fun year. It's been a fun playoff in front of our fans."

The Panthers thought they were on the board 1:50 into the third period when Mike Weaver's shot from the right point got past Brodeur. Shawn Matthias was whistled for goaltender interference, nullifying the goal — and further firing up the already desperate Panthers.

"Yeah, they probably missed one on that one," Florida coach Kevin Dineen said. "But what are you going to do?"

Weiss cut the lead in half at 5:02 of the third, burying a one-timer from the right circle after a pass from Brian Campbell. The equalizer nearly came 3 minutes later, when Weiss had another shot blocked, Scottie Upshall nearly got his stick on the rebound — the Devils' Andy Greene tied him up just enough to thwart that chance — and Kris Versteeg's try was batted away.

Didn't matter. The Panthers kept coming, getting the franchise's biggest goal in 16 years.

Shawn Bergenheim made a nifty move to get free for a shot that Brodeur stopped. The rebound rolled left, nearly on the goal line, and Goc knocked it home from an extremely tough angle to tie it at 2 with 3:28 left.

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