Florida Panthers (12-7-4) at Carolina Hurricanes (8-13-4)
Tuesday, Nov 29, 2011, 7:00 PM EST | RBC Center | Raleigh, NC
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5:00 1st: Not much going on so far; the Panthers hold a 2-1 shot advantage but neither team is asserting itself. Understandably, the Canes look to be playing a very simple game tonight, with a fairly uniform 1-2-2 defensive scheme and a few chances off rushes, but nothing overly choreographed yet. New Cane Andreas Nodl was nearly sprung on a breakaway but the pass got caught in his skates and forced him offside.
13:30 1st: It seems like the focus on passing this morning at practice has paid off, with Brandon Sutter particularly looking very sharp at distributing the puck. The Canes had two great chances, one a Jeff Skinner one-timer on a power play that Jose Theodore stopped and the other a Patrick Dwyer whiff at the doorstep, but the Canes will take those chances without question as they're bound to score on one at some point.
17:15 1st: Not quite sure how Alexei Ponikarovsky didn't give the Canes a 1-0 lead there. Theodore let a juicy rebound sit right in the crease, and Ponikarovsky had two whacks at it from point-blank but the Panthers' defense somehow kept the puck out.
End 1st: Derek Joslin is playing with a nasty streak tonight, first leveling Kris Versteeg after the latter had his head down in the low slot and forcing Versteeg to the bench with about 1:30 left, then taking a shot at a Panther who fired a slap shot on goal from the red line after the buzzer. The Panthers didn't tally a shot in the final 15 minutes, and the Canes hold an 8-2 advantage on the shot board.
3:11 2nd: A couple minutes after Theodore stoned Eric Staal on a quick-developing 3-on-2, Bryan Allen snuck down from the point and...fired it off the side of the net. Skated in too close to Theodore and didn't give himself enough room to set up. The Canes now lead in shots 11-2, and are headed to their second power play of the night.
10:45 2nd: Panthers lead 1-0; Fleischmann 11 (Campbell, Weiss) (pp) And like clockwork, three missed power plays for the Canes come back to bite them in the form of a Tomas Fleischmann power-play goal on the Panthers' first man advantage of the night. Fleischmann was the recipient of a perfect Brian Campbell pass, and with a screen set up in front of Cam Ward Fleischmann bounced the puck off the post and in for the first goal of the night.
11:49 2nd: Canes knot it at 1; Skinner 10 (Staal, Ruutu) Just over a minute later, Jeff Skinner scored the first goal of Kirk Muller's NHL head-coaching career on a persistent play at the far post. Off a nice feed from Eric Staal, Skinner's initial attempt was stuffed by Theodore, but the Panthers' goaltender didn't cover and Skinner cleaned up the rebound to put the Canes on the board.
17:30 2nd: The Panthers played for most of the first period like anything but a first-place team. Goal aside, they haven't done much this period to change minds. Carolina has been all over them in the offensive zone, and Theodore has needed to bail them out more than once. One interesting change that has been somewhat noticeable (sometimes more than others) is that the Canes are getting three forwards in on the forecheck regularly, instead of the center hanging out by the blue line ready to jump back on defense. That's a tweak that we had rarely seen from Paul Maurice.
End 2nd: Panthers defenseman Dimitry Kulikov headed to the locker room late in the period after blocking a shot from the Canes' Bryan Allen. The Panthers had a much better period that time around, firing 12 shots on Cam Ward to 8 for the Canes, who hold a 20-14 lead overall.
3:00 3rd: Despite the fact that the Canes have yet to score on the power play, their passing has been as crisp as I remember seeing it in a long, long time. Given that part of the reason they were so tired on the power play in the final days of the Maurice administration was that they couldn't put together a coherent pass to save their lives, this is a promising development. Now they just need to finish, something that Muller will work on over the next few practices. Remember, he hasn't had a real off-day practice yet, just a morning skate.
7:51 3rd: Jack Skille was hauled down from behind on a breakaway by Joni Pitkanen, and on the ensuing penalty shot Skille was stoned by Cam Ward after he skated too close to the crease and gave Ward enough of an opportunity to punch the puck away and keep the game tied.
13:22 3rd: As one commenter said: "new coach, same Kaberle." Pretty much - he has 15:43 in ice time, least among the Canes' six defensemen, and more than five of those minutes have come on the power play.
16:41 3rd: Panthers lead 2-1; Matthias 4 (Kopecky) After all that, a boneheaded play by (who else) Kaberle led to a go-ahead goal with just more than three minutes to go. Kaberle turned the puck over to Tomas Kopecky on the near boards, and Shawn Matthias pulled Ward off the near post just enough to sneak the puck in on the short side.
19:11 3rd: Panthers up 3-1; Matthias 5 (unassisted) (en) Alexei Ponikarovsky blew a tire at the red line and that was all she wrote, as Shawn Matthias had a layup into the empty net.