The Florida Panthers cannot seem to buy a win. Tonight they dominated the Carolina Hurricanes but still ended up on the wrong side of the scoresheet in a 3-2 home loss. The game was the second in a home and home back to back against the Hurricanes. Carolina won Saturday night in Carolina 6-2. The two weekend losses leave the Panthers eight points behind the Hurricanes in the Southeast division.
Florida came out flying and controlled much of the first period. Florida had the Canes on the run getting plenty of chances on Cam Ward but the Panthers were unable to convert. 18:08 into the first, Carolina’s Justin Faulk ripped a slapshot through traffic that found its way past Scott Clemmensen. Exactly one minute later, Alex Semin scored a goal finishing a nice sequence of passing with Jiri Tlusty and Eric Staal. Just like that it was 2-0 in favor or Carolina.
Jordan Staal got the Canes’ third goal 6:10 into the second. Only a few minutes later, Hurricanes’ goalie Cam Ward was forced to leave the game by an injury eerily similar to Theodore’s injury in the previous game. Ward came up lame saving the first shot he faced after being shaken up by a collision on the previous play. Ward had to be helped off the ice by the Hurricane’s trainers and was replaced by Canes backup goalie Dan Elliswho was originally supposed to start the game but was apparently feeling ill.
Ellis had a strong game in relief stopping 19 of 21 shots he faced. Jonathan Huberdeau score the Panthers’ first goal 16:05 into the second period. The goal came as Huberdeau tipped in a beautiful pass by Peter Mueller. The goal cut the lead to 3-1 and gave the Panthers life. In the third period Florida outshot Caroline 15-2. Huberdeau scored his second of the game with 55 seconds left in the game. Another beautiful pass by Mueller found Huberdeau alone in front of the net. Huberdeau’s two goals give him 10 on the season, he leads the Panthers and all NHL rookies in goals scored. The comeback fell just short as there was not enough time for Florida to even the score.
- The Panthers controlled the game and it is a shame to see them lose this one. Florida outshot Carolina 36-24 but could not come away with the victory. It seems like many of the Panther losses this year have had the same narrative. Florida dominates the other team but has trouble converting their pressure into goals meanwhile the Panthers’ opponents manage to squeak enough pucks past Floridas’ porous goaltenders to win the game.
- Carolina’s chances were few and far between tonight. Aside from their goals, the Hurricanes did not seem to have any strong scoring opportunities. Even when they screwed up, the Canes still managed to capitalize on scoring chances. On the Canes’ third goal, Jordan Staal was left open in front of the net but whiffed on his shot. Staal caught just enough of the puck to direct it on net and it somehow found a way past Scott Clemmensen.
- On the lighter side of things, the Panthers signed their goaltenders coachRob Tallas to a one game tryout to backup Scott Clemmensen after Jacob Markstrom‘s equipment got delayed en route to South Florida and did not arrive in time for the start of the game. Tallas appeared in 99 NHL games in a career that spannedfrom 1994-2005. It looks like a lot of hard work paid off as Tallas again found himself dressed in full gear on an NHL bench. Unfortunately for Tallas, Markstrom’s gear eventually arrived and Tallas was replaced on the bench. It must have been a grim walk back down that tunnel for Tallas who saw his brief career renaissance come to an end after less than one period.
- Huberdeau’s goals today were special because they demonstrated his amazing nose for the goal. Both goals came from hard-nosed hockey, simply getting in front of the net and getting sticks on pucks. It is good to see that Huberdeau can score these grinding goals as well as the goals that result from his high-end skill.
- Nolan Yonkman made his season debut on defense but saw little ice time. The team mostly rolled with five defenders and Yonkman only received 6:07 of ice time.
- The loss drops Florida to 6-11-5. Their six wins are fewest in the Eastern Conference and they are tied with the Capitals for the fewest points with 17. Florida’s next game is Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets in Florida.