Game Analysis: Hurricanes At Panthers

Joel Auerbach

The Carolina Hurricanes didn't start their season as planned, struggling on the penalty kill and looking out of sorts in a convincing 5-1 win Saturday by the Panthers in Sunrise, Fla.

The easiest way to get out of your game plan is to take penalties, and the Carolina Hurricanes learned the implications of not playing their game Saturday, getting stomped by the defending Southeast Division champion Panthers, 5-1.

Patrick Dwyer scored the lone Carolina goal on a Joni Pitkanen slap pass, but by then the game was long-since decided.

Three Observations

1. It was a mixed bag from Carolina's newcomers. Alexander Semin created a couple scoring opportunities with his lethal shot, but was otherwise quiet. Jordan Staal, while finishing with a team-high eight hits and winning eight of 15 faceoffs, was underwhelming in his Carolina debut. And Bobby Sanguinetti, who unseated Jamie McBain for the No. 6 job on defense, was caught in no-man's land on Florida's first goal — Jonathan Huberdeau's first career score — and otherwise seemed out of his league in just his fourth NHL start with the Hurricanes. Only Dan Ellis, who stopped 12 of 13 shots in relief of Cam Ward, seemed up to the task among Carolina's offseason additions.

2. Despite their designation as Carolina's second pairing, Justin Faulk and Pitkanen saw more work than anyone on the Carolina blue line. Each logged more than 25 minutes and finished plus-1 with an assist on the night despite the lopsided outcome.

3. Carolina finished with an impressive 42 shots on goal, but they were unable to convert on nine power play shots and failed to create havoc in front of Florida goalie Jose Theodore. The Staal brothers were mostly absent in the offensive zone, and the team had 25 missed shots to Florida's four.

Number To Know

8:26 — The number of special teams minutes played by second-year defenseman Justin Faulk. After an impressive rookie season last year and 31 solid games with the Charlotte Checkers during the lockout, Faulk seems to be coach Kirk Muller's No. 1 blueliner despite being just 20 years old.

Plus

Drayson Bowman — Dwyer scored Carolina's lone goal, but no one looked more impressive than Bowman. In just 9:30 he registered a team-high five shots and also finished plus-1 due to being on the ice for Dwyer's goal. Bowman was even briefly elevated to Carolina's top line in place of Zach Boychuk — who was the only forward to not register a shot on goal in the contest — and made his claim to a spot in the lineup Tuesday vs. Tampa Bay.

Minus

Joe Corvo — On a night when special teams made the difference, the returning defenseman took two first-period penalties that led to goals and crushed Carolina's chances of winning. Corvo's chemistry with Tim Gleason is well know, but if he's in the box with ticky-tack penalties he's of no use to Gleason or the Hurricanes.

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