NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, March 27th
(All times Eastern)
Carolina Hurricanes (31-32-9) at Florida Panthers (27-38-8), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The struggling Carolina Hurricanes will try to avoid
another slow start on Thursday night as they visit the Florida Panthers.
The Hurricanes appear headed for a fifth straight season of missing the
playoffs thanks to 11 losses in their last 16 games. They sit nine points back
of a four-team tie for the two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference with
just 10 games to play.
Carolina saw goaltender Cam Ward pulled after just 6:12 of game action on
Tuesday in a 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders. Ward yielded three goals on
nine shots faced, while Anton Khudobin made 21 saves in relief.
Khudobin actually took the loss as Jeff Skinner, Andrei Loktionov, Alexander
Semin and Nathan Gerbe all scored in defeat. Jordan Staal added two assists.
"It was a tough start," said Skinner. "A couple of weird bounces and it just
seemed to snowball."
Khudobin seems likely to draw the start tonight and he has won both of his
previous meetings with the Panthers while yielding three goals on 74 shots
The Hurricanes are visiting the Panthers for the first time this season after
picking up a pair of victories in Carolina earlier in the campaign. They have
won four of the last five encounters overall.
Carolina snapped a four-game series road losing streak last season, but has
still lost eight of its last 11 in Sunrise.
The Panthers are ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern standings and
have not won two in a row since Jan. 20-21. They were look to do so tonight
after snapping a three-game slide with Tuesday's 3-2 shootout win over the
Roberto Luongo made 37 saves and another two stops in the shootout, capping
the tiebreaker with a glove save on Milan Michalek. That game after both
Vincent Trocheck and Brandon Pirri netted goals in the shootout for the
Sean Bergenheim and Trocheck scored second-period goals for Florida, which is
3-6-1 in its past 10 games.
"We planned to come out hard in the first period," said Trocheck of an opening
scoreless frame in which the Panthers were outshot 20-10. "They came out twice
Florida won the opener of a three-game homestand and saw Luongo improve to
4-4-1 with a 2.53 goals against average and .923 save percentage since being
acquired from the Vancouver Canucks. He is 10-13-1 versus the Hurricanes
lifetime with a 2.59 GAA.
The Panthers may have defenseman Eric Gudbranson in the lineup tonight. He has
not played since suffering a knee injury on March 9.
03/27 10:47:41 ET