SUNRISE, Fla. — There was about a minute left in Game 5, and New Jersey's David Clarkson was making a desperate rush for the puck with his team trailing Florida by two goals.
He wound up kicking a toy rat aside instead.
Welcome to playoff hockey in South Florida.
The "Rat Trick" is a tradition dating back in Florida to the 1995-96 season, when fan favorite Scott Mellanby used his stick to exterminate one of the critters in the Panthers' dressing room before a game. It became part of the team's lore, and fans are now encouraged to litter the ice with plastic rats after every home win.
Except many don't wait that long. Some rain down after goals, and the Devils aren't exactly thrilled about that. It worries the Panthers as well.