NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 18th (All times Eastern)
Florida Panthers (18-22-7) at Carolina Hurricanes (19-18-9), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Carolina Hurricanes recorded a season-high in goals last week, but the club hasn't managed to light the lamp in two straight losses since that high-scoring victory.
The 'Canes will try to break out of their scoring slump on Saturday when they welcome the Florida Panthers to PNC Arena.
Carolina notched a 6-1 blowout victory over visiting Toronto on Jan. 9 to extend its winning streak to five games before getting shut out in consecutive games against Columbus and Calgary. The Blue Jackets posted a 3-0 home win over the Hurricanes a day after Carolina's win against the Maple Leafs and Calgary notched a 2-0 road win in Raleigh on Monday.
Although the Hurricanes have been idle since Monday's home setback, the club is about to get a whole lot busier. Beginning with today's tilt, Carolina will play 11 times over the next 22 days, but eight of those games will be on home ice.
With Carolina currently five points out of a playoff spot in the East, the Hurricanes know now is a good time to make a move.
"You need to be pushing hard to pick up points because everyone in our division is, especially at home, so we've got to be ready to go tomorrow," captain Eric Staal told his club's official web site.
Carolina enters Saturday with a scoreless streak of 121 minutes, 9 seconds and the club hopes to snap that funk early in today's game, which is the first of a three-game homestand.
The Hurricanes sent 23 shots Karri Ramo's way on Monday, but the Flames goaltender stopped every one to post his first career NHL shutout. Anton Khudobin was the hard-luck loser after making 27 saves for the Hurricanes.
"They got the lead, and once they did, they were able to sit back a little bit and defend," Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller said.
Carolina, which will host Tampa Bay on Sunday, is 10-9-5 as the host this season.
The Panthers have lost two of their last three games and enter Saturday with a 4-5-2 record over their last 11 games. Florida also was shut out in its last game, losing a 3-0 decision Thursday night against the visiting San Jose Sharks. Alex Stalock made 24 saves for the Sharks to post his first career shutout.
Tim Thomas stopped 36-of-39 shots for the Panthers, who failed to build off Tuesday's 4-2 win over the Islanders. Thomas kept the Panthers in the game early by making 21 saves during a scoreless first period.
"We weren't ready to play, I'm not very happy with that," Panthers coach Peter Horachek said.
Beginning with tonight's game in Raleigh, the Panthers are scheduled to play three straight and seven of their next eight on the road. Florida is 8-12-3 on the road this season compared to a 10-10-4 mark on home ice.
The Panthers, who are four points behind Carolina in the conference standings, have won three of five and seven of the last 10 meetings in this series. The Hurricanes had won two straight home tests against Florida before the Panthers registered a 4-1 win in Raleigh on March 19 of last season.
01/18 10:56:26 ET