On a night tailor-made for a longstanding record to fall, the Florida Panthers slammed the door on any such thoughts for a home crowd thirsty to get the hype behind behind them.
Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur was denied his 104th shutout on defenseman Jordan Leopold's fourth of the year with a beautiful read, blasting the puck past an astonished New Jersey club at 3:53 of the first period. For all the times Florida keeps fans guessing, tonight was a happy exception.
Shots ended up 28 to 22 in the Devils' favor, but Michael Frolik's two goals - the second a spectacular one-on-none against Brodeur - proved to be the difference. The guy was determined and displaying the effort we've seen repeatedly but seldom witnessed a payoff. Frolik also led the Panthers with seven shots on goal.
Shawn Matthias scored his second of the season as Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss climbed back on to the train with two assists each.
Dean McAmmond and Brian Rolston scored for New Jersey.
Scott Clemmensen was imperfect but more than solid in net for the Cats; it was quite obvious where his heart resided on this night, downing a club which many claimed slighted him late in 2009.
More to come tomorrow...and keep in mind the Cats are headlining in Pittsburgh Saturday against Craig Adams, Brent Johnson, and the rest of the Penguins. Open thread goes live at 6pm.