The Carolina Hurricanes fell behind early and then could not recover from the deficit as they lost their final game of the season, 5-2 to the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.
Eddie Lack looked rusty in the start as the Panthers scored on their very first shot and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 7:40 of the game, on just five shots. In some fairness to the goalie though, the Panthers were skating in with prime, "grade A" chances.
The Canes had a few excellent chances of their own but Roberto Luongo made some nice saves for the home team.
With the score 4-0, Elias Lindholm finally got Carolina on the board midway through the second period with the putback of a Jordan Staal shot. The goal was Lindholm's 11th of the season.
Staal would make the score 4-2 with the tip in of a Noah Hanifin shot during a powerplay opportunity at 4:20 into the third. The club would get close a few more times in the period as they overcame a huge "shots-on-goal" disadvantage, but Luongo was able to keep the puck out of his net the rest of the way.
The Cats scored an empty-netter late to close out the scoring.
After being outshot 11-5 in the first period, the Hurricanes outshot the home team, 23-10 the rest of the way.
The Canes closed out their season 1-3-0 down the stretch and were out-scored 15-7 in those four games. Still, this is the best record the club has had in five years and there are high expectations for the future. We will have much more coverage and analysis here at Canes Country during the offseason.
(Notes: The team will have final interviews with the players, with Coach Peters, and Ron Francis on Tuesday morning. We will be covering that and will have reports afterward. We will also be having our playoff pick-em challenge with prizes starting this week, and will have plenty of draft and free agent coverage coming up.)