Florida Panthers 7-16-6 (20 pts) at Carolina Hurricanes 15-11-2 (32 pts)
The Florida Panthers begin their longest road trip of the season tonight when they face-off against the Southeast leading Carolina Hurricanes. The Panthers, currently nursing a six game losing streak, would love to pick up some positive momentum with a win tonight. On the road trip, the Panthers will be playing five games in eight nights and they will face the Rangers, Devils, Islanders and Maple Leafs in addition to the Hurricanes.
March has not been kind to the Panthers. The team is 1-7-1 so far this month and their 20 points rank dead last in the NHL, four points behind the next worst teams. The Panthers have not quit on the season though as the team showed some fight in their game Saturday against the New York Islanders. After falling behind early (what a surprise) the Panthers fought back from a 3-0 deficit scoring three goals in a 1:46 span during the third period to knot things up. Unfortunately that was all they could muster and the Islanders eventually put in the game winner escaping with a 4-3 victory.
The Carolina Hurricanes are playing the second half of a back-to-back having lost last night in a shootout to the New York Rangers. The Hurricanes find themselves in a tie with the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Southeast division.
This will be the fourth and final matchup between these two teams this season. The Canes have the advantage so far having won two of the three games. The Panthers emphatically defeated Carolina 5-1 on opening night but then lost both games of a home and home back to back between the two teams at the beginning of March.
- The Hurricanes top line of Alex Semin Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty has been dominant this season. The trio has combined for 86 points (35 goals, 51 assists) and they are a combined +59 on the season.
- Speaking of that first line, Alex Semin and Eric Staal both come into tonight’s game with five game point streaks. Staal has 2 goals and four assists in his last five while Semin has 2 goals and five assists.
- Recent Panthers acquisition T.J. Brennan did not waste any time making his mark on the team. Brennan recorded his first Panther goal in his first game with the team on Saturday against the islanders. Brennan received some time on the power play during the game and showed that he is not afraid to unleash his shot from anywhere on the ice.
- The Panthers have re-assigned Jonathan Rheault to San Antonio and called up Eric Selleck. The 25 year old Selleck has 5 goals and 12 assists this season with the Rampage. Selleck is 6’2” 208 lbs and has 181 PIMs this season all signs that indicated that Selleck will bring some size and toughness to the Panthers.
- If the Panthers are going to win tonight, they will definitely need a dose or two of Jonathan Huberdeau. Huberdeau has had some early career success against the Canes tallying 3 goals and 2 assists in three games.
- This will be the last game between the two teams this season which marks the end of the rivalry as we know it. With the NHL’s realignment plan getting approved, the Hurricanes and Panthers will play in different divisions next season.
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