Patrik Elias scored his 41st career playoff goal at the 6:51 mark to give New Jersey the lead. Dainius Zubrus started the play, picking off a pass in the offensive zone. He sent a cross-ice pass to Elias, who was wide open in the left circle. The Devils' center held the puck and stickhandled in on Jose Theodore, who went down to the ice. Elias sent a puck over the Panthers goalie and into the net.
Two goals just 45 seconds apart extended the Devils lead to 3-0.
Zubrus scored the first one, netting a powerplay goal with 5:49 left in the first period. After a clear down the ice, Martin Brodeur came out of the net and played the puck to David Clarkson, who was standing near the Panthers blue line. Clarkson carried the puck in and chipped a pass to Zubrus, who moved in all alone on Theodore. He beat the Panthers goalie five hole for his first goal of the playoffs.
Ryan Carter scored just 45 seconds later to put the Devils up three. Carter stripped Panthers defenseman Ed Jovanovski near the penalty boxes, and moved in on Theodore. His shot beat the Panthers goalie glove side.
The Devils outshot the Panthers, 26-9, in the first period. The 26 shots set a franchise playoff record, surpassing 20 shots on net in the second period on May 11, 1997 against the New York Rangers.
Despite the low shot total, Florida almost netted it's first goal with just 22 seconds remaining in the opening period. Brodeur made an arm save on Wojtek Wolski, who fired a shot from the slot.