The Carolina Hurricanes turned things around in the second game of their home-and-home series against the Florida Panthers with a 3-2 win over their Southeast Division rival on Saturday night at the RBC. After the Panthers were able to generate chance after chance and 50 shots on goal the previous night, the Canes held them to four shots in the first period, and five shots in the second.
Eric Staal played a superb all around game and knocked in two goals, one during a 5-on-3 powerplay, and another with a wicked, knuckling wrister in the third period.
Erik Cole set up Jeff Skinner, who was in front of the net, and the rookie knocked in his fifth goal of the season. Skinner also earned an assist on the Staal powerplay tally.
The Panthers fought back in the third, but the Canes held on for their seventh win of the season. They now stand at 7-7.
After a closely played scoreless opening period, the Canes started to put more pressure on in the Florida zone in the second. At about 7 minutes into the second period, they went on another 5-on-3 powerplay, but unlike the previous night where they generated zero chances, they put several shots on goalie Scott Clemmensen this time around.
Paul Maurice went with five forwards during the sequence, Staal, Skinner, Samsonov, Ruutu, and Cole, and the strategy worked. Eric Staal would make it 1-0 on a perfectly placed blast of a one-timer.
The second period ended with the score 1-0 as the Hurricanes team defense continued to bottle up most Florida chances.
Just two minutes and change into the third period, Erik Cole made the power move of the game as he took the puck behind the net and then slithered a beautiful pass to the crease area where Jeff Skinner was waiting. The rookie was able to get his stick on the puck and knocked it into the net to make the score 2-0 and send the 17,704 Carolina faithful into a tizzy.
Exactly one minute later, Darcy Hordichuk knocked one in past Cam Ward to give the Panthers some hope, but Eric Staal wristed in an unassisted goal, his second goal of the night, to make the score 3-1 and just about put the game away.
Florida coach Peter Deboer pulled Clemmensen with over two minutes left to try to get something going for his team and the Panthers did make it 3-2 as Michael Frolik scored with just 43 seconds left. But the Canes held them off until the final horn and skated away with their second straight win at home.
Carolina will be at home for two more games next week as they face Edmonton on Tuesday night and Philadelphia on Thursday.
Quick Stats and Thoughts:
- To their credit, the Hurricanes concentrated on trying to play a much more disciplined game and that is exactly what they were able to accomplish. It was an excellent effort by the team's defense to hold the Panthers to just 9 shots after the first two periods. The visitors finished with 20 for the game.
- Eric Staal really took his game a notch or two and at times, looked like he would not be denied from obtaining the puck as he went after it with a vengeance. He was named the game's first star. Along with his two tallies, he had a team leading 7 shots on goal.
- Jay Harrison played over 22 minutes, (much higher than his previous average of 13 and change). He had 4 hits and also blocked a team high 4 shots.
- Tim Gleason had a team high 7 hits. The Canes were credited with 30 for the game.
- Carolina still has not won 50% of faceoffs in any game. They finished at 41% for this contest. Staal was 43%, (10 of 23), Ruutu was 44%, (4 of 9), Sutter was 43%, (9 of 21), and Matsumoto was 0-1.
- Jiri Tlusty and Anton Babchuk tied with a team leading 3 takeaways each.
- Brandon Sutter was only credited with one hit but seemed to play with more of a physical edge in this contest.
Here are two post game interviews, one by Skinner, one by coach Paul Maurice.