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Jeff Skinner Drives Carolina Comeback: Hurricanes 5, Panthers 3

The Carolina Hurricanes found themselves in a familiar position in Sunrise, Florida on Friday night, losing to the Panthers at the end of the first period.  But like they have done several times in the past, the Canes battled back and ended up prevailing over the Panthers, 5-3.

Justin Peters was in net for Carolina and took a bit to get warmed up as the Panthers got off to a fast start when David Booth scored on a wrap around just 1:36 into the game. 

The Cats made it 2-0 when Marty Reasoner tipped a Dennis Wideman shot past Peters at the 12:30 mark.  In the meantime, it looked like the Hurricanes were going to have one of those nights as a couple of close chances for them, just missed at the other end.

But in the second period Jeff Skinner took over the game, much like he did in the last contest in Florida.

Skinner had a couple of grade A chances in the first period, one during a powerplay as he danced through the defense and barely missed on his shot.  Just 1:46 into the second period, he took a nice feed from Tuomo Ruutu, who got plastered along the boards for his trouble, and skated around one defenseman, then beat Tomas Vokoun with a slippery shot to make the score, 2-1. 

Skinner would then tie the game halfway through the period when Patrick Dwyer sent a puck toward the net that was tipped into the air.  It looked like the puck hit the rookie and bounced in the goal as he was trying to knock it in. 

It's a score that happens when you're in the right place at the right time and you're battling, and that is exactly what the youngster was doing.

After two periods the score was tied, but the Canes had all the momentum.  Eric Staal would give the visitors the lead when he got a nice feed from Zach Boychuk midway through the third.  While being covered, the Carolina Captain put on a quick release shot that fooled both the defenseman as well as the goalie, to make the score 3-2. 

Young Skinner wasn't finished though as he put another amazing move on in the Florida zone.  Using his patented "10-2" move, he fed a trailing Erik Cole and number 26 made a nifty shot as he roofed one over Vokoun's blocker side to put the game away.

Cole would score another on an empty-netter, just before the Panthers scored a meaningless goal with only 38 seconds left. 

The win was a huge one for the Hurricanes and moves them back to within three points of eighth place, right behind Montreal.  The team has now earned points in each of their last six games, (4-0-2).

Next up will be the Atlanta Thrashers at the RBC on Sunday afternoon.

Quick Thoughts and Stats:

  • It really is amazing how similar the games against the Florida Panthers are.  The Panthers always jump out to a lead, and always give it back up, (although they do hold on to win at times).  It seems like both teams would be able to figure this out and change things up at some point.  
  • Jeff Skinner looked like an All Star out there and was named the game's number one star.  Florida defensemen will be seeing him in their sleep tonight because he was skating circles around them all game long.  The youngest player in the NHL continues to lead all rookies in points scored.
  • Tuomo Ruutu had a monster night as he chipped in with three assists and had 10 hits!  That is not a typo -- 10 hits.
  • The Canes combined for 57 hits compared to 26 for the Cats.  It just looked like they wanted this one more than the home team as they hit everything that moved.  After Ruutu's 10, Zach Boychuk and Chad LaRose had 6 hits each while Ian White had five.   
  • Both teams had 35 shots on goal for the night.  The defense had good moments and bad, but they scrambled as best they could to help their rookie goaltender.  Tim Gleason broke up an open 2 on 1 at one point, Jay Harrison prevented a goal when he made a stick save on an open net, and White dove back to stop a breakaway.
  • Speaking of scrambling, Justin Peters finished with 32 saves on 35 shots.  The backup understandably looked a bit rusty at times but he did make some solid saves, first to keep the lead within two in the opening period, and then down the stretch when Florida was making a push back.  It was his second win of the season.  
  • Coach Paul Maurice was mixing up the lines so much that announcers Tripp Tracy and John Forslund could not keep up with who was on the ice.  We will have to take bets to see what the lines are on Sunday afternoon against the Thrashers, especially if Jussi Jokinen is back. 
  • There will be a limited practice at the Rec Zone at noon on Saturday.  ("Limited" in that just a few skaters will be on the ice.) 

Post game imterviews:

Jeff Skinner 1 7 11

Justin Peters 1 7 11

Eric Staal 1 7 11

Paul Maurice 1 7 11