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Carolina Hurricanes @ Florida Panthers: Game Preview

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The Carolina Hurricanes can clinch a post-season appearance with a win tonight.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Florida Panthers Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re curious as to how Florida Panthers fans feel about their most recent performance against the Carolina Hurricanes, you can get a quick summary by looking at the front page of Litter Box Cats, our SB Nation sibling site. “Infuriating,” they called it. I suppose that’s true, from a Panthers perspective. Over here, we’ll just call that last game “fun”.

Tonight’s game marks the final meeting between these two teams this season. In seven games to date, the Panthers have only one win, a 4-3 overtime victory back in February. They’ve been outscored 26-15 and have lost now to all three Hurricanes goalies. In a season where literally every game is crucial for your spot in the standings, the Panthers probably aren’t going to look too fondly on this series and how it will ultimately impact their playoff matchup.

As for the Hurricanes, if the collective math skills over here at Canes Country haven’t failed us, it’s possible for the team to clinch a playoff spot tonight with a win over the Panthers. Presuming all goes well, this will be the third consecutive playoff appearance for the team, a Carolina first. (The Hartford Whalers did it seven times in a row.)

For one last time this season, let’s see how these two teams stack up:

Vital Statistics

Category Hurricanes Lightning
Category Hurricanes Lightning
Record 5-5-0 7-3-0
Goals/Game 3.10 3.60
Goals Against/Game 2.80 2.60
Shots/Game 37.6 29.5
Face Off Win % 52.7% 47.6%
Power Play % (Rank) 20.0% (8th) 41.2% (1st)
Penalty Kill % (Rank) 77.5% (9th) 75.8% (10th)
ES Corsi For % 55.1% 46.4%
ES PDO 99.1 101.5
PIM/Game 10:24 12:12

Goaltender #1

Category Alex Nedeljkovic Andrei Vasilevskiy
Category Alex Nedeljkovic Andrei Vasilevskiy
Record 4-4-0 7-3-0
Save % .920 .928
GAA 2.18 2.46

Goaltender #2

Category Alex Nedeljkovic Chris Driedger
Category Alex Nedeljkovic Chris Driedger
Record 12-4-2 12-5-3
Save % .933 .927
GAA 1.87 2.09

Goaltender #3

Category James Reimer Kasimir Kaskisuo
Category James Reimer Kasimir Kaskisuo
Record 15-5-2 0-0-0
Save % .906 .000
GAA 2.66 0.00

Game Notes

  • Special teams was the story of the night in the previous game: the Panthers converted on only one of nine power play opportunities, while the Hurricanes scored once on the man advantage and twice shorthanded. (Hi, Sebastian Aho, we see you.) The Hurricanes might not get that lucky again, so taking nine penalties in tonight’s game seems inadvisable.
  • Since April 1, the Panthers’ special teams have been among the worst in the league. Their power play comes in at number 22 in the league (11.9%), while the penalty kill is 24th (76.7%).
  • Aho’s three shorthanded goals this season have him tied for second in the league, along with five other players, including Patrice Bergeron, and when you can say you’re tied in any category with Bergeron, well, you’re doing something right. Cam Atkinson, incidentally, leads the league with four shorthanded goals.
  • Vincent Trocheck is sitting on 38 points for the season. He’s matched his output from last season, and he’s done it a lot faster, too. Last year, between Florida and Carolina, Trocheck needed 62 games to reach 38 points.
  • Martin Necas sure seems like he’s been everywhere lately. He’s having the best season of his career, already exceeding last year’s 36 points. Like Trocheck, Necas got there a lot faster this year: 37 points in 43 games this year, compared to 36 in 64 last year.
  • Even more interesting is that Necas is putting up those numbers with the lowest shooting percentage of his career to date.
  • Your latest playoff race numbers: