Dan Marino, wearing a custom No. 13 Panthers jersey, dropped the ceremonial opening puck.
Marino came to Sunrise in style, flying in on the helicopter of Panthers' part-owner Mike Maroone.
Marino, it should be noted, retired from the Dolphins on March 13, 2000. On April 13, 2012, he dropped the first puck on the Panthers first playoff game since April 2000.
Florida started its 2000 series against the host Devils on April 13, 2000.
--Despite practicing just twice since leaving Saturday's game early with a lower body injury, Marco Sturm was back in the lineup Friday.
Krys Barch, who had been working with Florida's fourth line, was a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game. Mike Santorelli, Keaton Ellerby and Jerred Smithson were also scratched.
“He has a lot of composure,'' coach Kevin Dineen said Friday morning, noting Sturm's 61 postseason games compared to three for Barch. “He has a skillset that's both offensive and responsible on the defensive side. Like a lot of our players, he's pretty diverse.''
Public address announcer Jay Rokeach pleaded with fans not to return to the tradition set in 1996 as the NHL changed the rules the following season.
Florida could be charged with a two minute bench minor if the game is delayed for fans throwing the rubber rodents onto the ice. Of course, that has yet to happen.
() Fans weren't too pleased with the officiating crew as the Devils had six power play chances to Florida's three. New Jersey had a 5-1 power play advantage in the second period before the Devils picked up a pair of penalties within a two-minute span.
Rats photo courtesy of Miami Herald staff photographer Joe Rimkus Jr. To see his 25-shot gallery from Friday's game, click here.