The Florida Panthers snapped the Carolina Hurricanes four game winning streak on Thursday night by a score of 4-2 as Nathan Horton scored the game winning goal off of a feed by David Booth about three minutes into the third period. Jay Bouwmeester scored a powerplay goal earlier, just 30 seconds into the period on a nice pass from ex-Cane Cory Stillman.
New Canes-killer, Booth scored the game's first goal, his 17th of the season on a rebound chance in front of Cam Ward at the 14 minute mark of the first period.
Later in the period, Anton Babchuk tied the game on a nice wrist shot when Matt Cullen found him sneaking into the slot area. The goal was the third in six games for Babchuk, who has discovered some confidence and is on a roll.
The second period was uneventful and unmemorable as the Canes could only manage 8 shots on goal to Florida's 13. The highlight, (or lowlight) of the period was when Ray Whitney was called for the first penalty of the game with just about a minute left. The Canes were able to kill the front end of Florida's advantage, but Bouwmeester struck with Whitney in the box to start the third.
Carolina had a rough time generating many decent scoring chances, but the team's first line did start to get something going near the end of the game. Eric Staal began to dominate while Tuomo Ruutu and Sergei Samsonov were buzzing. Finally, their hard work came to fruition as Staal found Samsonov cutting toward the net and the Russian sniper tipped the puck past Tomas Vokoun making the score 3-2.
It was too little too late though as the Canes allowed their typical empty net goal when they pulled Ward and were unable to muster a single shot. Greg Campbell scored the empty netter.
Next up for the Canes will be a much tougher matchup against the conference leading Bruins in Boston on Saturday afternoon. They will need to bring their "A" games because Boston's record at home is 15-3-1.
Tim Gleason left the game early with some type of leg injury. There should be an update about his status on Friday.
This was the first game of the season that the Hurricanes failed to draw a single penalty. Powerplays will be of major importance to this group as they continue to transcend into a defense orientated team and the Canes had zero opportunities against the Panthers. (That must have been a first for the Panthers, to be penalty free.)
The Brind'Amour, Whitney, and Willams line looked a bit slow and was beaten down the ice a few times by David Booth and company. Although, Booth will make several forwards look slow as they try to keep up with him. Ray Whitney has had better games.
Eric Staal turned it on late in the contest, but couldn't get much going against Bouwmeester throughout much of the game. It was All Star versus All Star as Panthers coach Peter Deboer had his best defenseman shadow the Canes best player all night.
Not only did he score a goal, but Anton Babchuk had a decent game in his own end as well and finished with a +2.
The team definitely needs work trying to do something with a 6-on-5 advantage. It seems like they always allow an empty net goal when they try pulling the goalie and can rarely advance the puck enough to assert any serious pressure in the opposing zone.
The Canes are not going to win them all, and Florida is no pushover. The true test will be if they can bounce back with a decent effort Saturday afternoon.