The Carolina Hurricanes redeemed themselves with a win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night by the same score that they were beaten by in their previous meeting, 4-2. The game had a couple of unlikely heroes.Â Matt Cullen slapped in a rebound for the game's first score just 26 seconds into the Canes first powerplay.Â In the 2nd period, Chad LaRose took a perfect pass from Rod Brind'Amour and scored a pretty goal to make it 2-0. Jay Bouwmeester scored his 2nd goal of the season against Carolina and made it a close game again at 2-1. Then just a few seconds later, Trevor Letowski scored what would be the eventual game winner on a savvy put-back of a rebound from the weary Tomas Vokoun, who was playing his 2nd game in two nights. New Canes killer Richard Zednick scored another Panthers goal on a beautiful move, again tightening things up a bit. But Cory Stillman scored an insurance goal for the Canes on another powerplay in the final period to close out the scoring. Surprisingly, John Grahame got the start in net and made a solid 22 saves to earn his 2nd win of the year. Matt Cullen, Rod Brind'Amour, and powerplay sensation Jeff Hamilton each had 2 points for the night.
The Hurricanes started off the game like gangbusters, at one point outshooting the Panthers 12-2 and eventually finishing the 1st period with a 17-7 shot advantage. Vokoun was equal to the challenge though, allowing just the lone powerplay goal during the barrage. The pace seemed to slow down a touch in the 2nd period, but the Canes scored when they needed to and matched each Florida tally with one of their own. The 3rd period was a cautious one, with neither team wanting to give the other an advantage. Other than the players I mentioned above, I thought Cory Stillman played an excellent game. He came very close to scoring on a few chances. I know that some Caniacs would have preferred that the score was a bit higher for the Canes, but the Panthers don't seem to be the pushovers that they have been in year's past. They were coming off a 3 game winning streak, the back end of consecutive road games, and they still managed to put up a pretty close game. Richard Zednick gives them some much needed speed and has looked very good the past few games for them. The referees also redeemed themselves somewhat (although Brad Watson was no where to be found). Apparently Bill McCreary and Tim Peel made an agreement to let the boys play, because there were only a total of 5 penalties called for the whole game even though it looked as though there should be a few more on each team.Â There were two on Carolina and three on Florida, but none of them were diving penalties even though the near capacity Carolina crowd implored the refs to call one almost every time a Panther took a spill. All in all it was a good game with a good result and helped get the Hurricanes back to a 7 point division lead. No complaints!