With that in mind, Theodore was back between the pipes Tuesday against the Devils. Theodore rewarded Dineen's faith by stopping 32 shots in a 3-2 shootout loss to New Jersey at BankAtlantic Center.
The Panthers are 1-4 in shootouts this season – all coming at home – and have scored just one goal in those five contests. Marcel Goc, who could be out until the New Year, scored to lead Florida to a 3-2 shootout win over Tampa Bay in the home opener.
Despite the loss, the Panthers gained a point over second place Washington. The first-place Panthers have a seven point lead on the Capitals once again.
“We weren't very good and we have to go back, have a few good practices and the next few days will be big for us,'' said Kris Versteeg, who scored both of Florida's goals but is now 0-for-4 in the shootout.
“We weren't good enough all night and that will happen sometimes. We should be thankful we have a point. [Theodore] saved us all game. He's the reason we got to overtime. We should have pushed back.''
Theodore's game Sunday definitely looks like an anomaly as he had only given up four goals once in a game this season and had given up three goals or fewer in 16 straight heading into New York. Theodore let Sunday's game roll off him as he was loose after Tuesday's morning skate, wearing a retro Chicago Bears t-shirt with a Yankees cap tilted to the side.
On Tuesday, he was forced to be at his best as the Panthers struggled for offense once Versteeg gave them a 2-0 lead with another two goal performance against the Devils.
The Panthers were outshot 16-6 in the second period and 5-1 in the third. Florida's one shot in the third was its fewest in a single period this season. The Panthers came hard at Martin Brodeur in overtime but none of their four shots found the back of the net.
In the shootout, Ilya Kovalchuk (5-for-6 this season) scored for the Devils as did Patrik Elias. Florida only got two shots as it shot second; Tomas Fleischmann and Versteeg were stopped.
Florida took a 1-0 lead in the first after a sweet pass from Stephen Weiss found Versteeg on the right side of Brodeur. In the second, Versteeg got loose on a penalty kill and walked in on the Devils' Hall of Fame goalie to make it 2-0.
Elias scored less than a minute after Versteeg's second goal to make it 2-1, with Zach Parise tapping a puck off the back wall past Theodore to tie with 7:40 into the third.
Fleischmann had a chance to give the Panthers the lead but hit the post with 5:16 left.
“We were lucky to get one [point],'' defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. “We had a lot of turnovers and that's eventually going to bite us. We'll take the point and put it in the bank but we could be a lot better.''
AROUND THE ICE
Rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson was held out of Tuesday's game with leg tightness after Sunday's game against the New York Rangers. Dineen said Gudbranson could be out a few games; Gudbranson said if the medical staff would have let him, he would have played against the Devils.
With Gudbranson out, Keaton Ellerby was back in the lineup for the first time since Nov. 25.
() Center Tim Kennedy cleared waivers Tuesday and was assigned to Florida's AHL affiliate in San Antonio. With Kennedy gone, Mike Santorelli was back in the lineup after being benched Sunday against the Rangers. Santorelli centered the fourth line with Matt Bradley and Krys Barch.
() Barch, acquired from Dallas last week, fought for the third time in four games and also took a delay of game penalty. He has now spent 21 minutes in the penalty box, already seventh-most on the Panthers this season.
() Panthers prospect Quinton Howden was being treated for concussion-like symptoms after being hit by Brett Connolly during a Team Canada world junior intrasquad scrimmage Monday night. Howden could miss some time but his condition isn't too serious.
Howden also suffered a concussion during Panthers training camp and didn't participate in any on-ice activities before being sent back to his Canadian junior team.