The Carolina Hurricanes might have underestimated a depleted Florida Panthers team as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening period, then held on the rest of the way to defeat the Panthers, 2-1 in front of 16,252 at the RBC on Tuesday night.
The Canes were outshot in the final two periods, 35-14 as the Panthers maintained almost constant pressure in the Carolina zone. When asked what he thought about the game in the post-game press conference coach Paul Maurice replied, "We won."
It seemed obvious that the team was looking ahead to the Buffalo game on Thursday night as every player interviewed after this contest mentioned that they knew it was a big, important game coming up. It almost cost them though as the Panthers came close to tying the score on several occasions, and would have been successful if not for the hard work of Cam Ward, who made 41 saves on the night.
Cory Stillman got the home team started just 5:25 into the game as he knocked in a rebound from an Erik Cole pass. Cole made a nice play beating the defense down the ice on a rush, then guided the puck to the front of the net. There was Stillman, in perfect position.
The Hurricanes were awarded a powerplay later in the period and Stillman would make his presence known again as he sent a hard, slap pass to Eric Staal, who was able to tip the puck in past goalie Scott Clemmensen.
Staal missed Saturday's loss in Montreal due to an UBI, but he said after the game that while it took him awhile to find his legs, he was feeling fine.
The Hurricanes really didn't pressure very much the rest of the game as they generated nine shots on goal in the second period and five shots in the third. In all, they were outshot 42-22 in the contest.
The Panthers lost five roster players on trade deadline day and had several AHL players on the ice. Those players were showcasing themselves for jobs though and were not ready to roll over.
The Canes will hit the ice for practice tomorrow, to prepare for the huge game Thursday night against, as Staal said, a "rival". The Sabres are just two points behind the Hurricanes, with two games in hand. (The Canes are just one point behind the seventh place Rangers, with one game in hand.)
Quick thoughts and stats:
- Chad LaRose and Joni Pitkanen had four shots each, high on the team.
- The team had 26 hits, led by Tuomo Ruutu with five.
Bryan Allen made his Carolina debut against his former team, an admittedly tough ordeal. He played 16:05, had four hits, and one blocked shot.
- The Canes are a remarkable 21-0-0 when leading after two periods.
post game interviews: