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Carolina Hurricanes vs. Florida Panthers: Game Preview

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Two big points are on the line as Central Division leader comes into PNC Arena for two straight games starting tonight.

Florida Panthers v Carolina Hurricanes
RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 7: Jordan Staal #11 of the Carolina Hurricanes defends as Jonathan Huberdeau #11 of the Florida Panthers controls the the puck during an NHL game on March 7, 2021 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes begin a two-game set against the Discover Central Division leaders, the Florida Panthers tonight. These will be two pivotal games going forward if the Hurricanes are going to have a chance to finish at the top of the division. Coming into tonight’s game, the Hurricanes are in third place in the division with 53 points, one game behind the second place Tampa Bay Lightning. The Panthers have 56 points. The Hurricanes do have two games in hand on the Panthers and one on the Lightning.

Carolina is coming off a hard fought back-to-back against the Dallas Stars, where it lost 3-2 on Saturday night and came back to defeat the Stars 1-0 on Sunday. It was Petr Mrazek’s return to the ice and he did it in fine fashion with his third shutout in only his fifth game of the season.

Mrazek returned from injury after missing 33 games after suffering a thumb injury on Jan. 30 against Dallas. He had to have surgery on the thumb, but he looked like he hadn’t missed a beat on Sunday.

The Hurricanes seem to be content carrying all three goalies for the time being, and there is no word yet on who will be in net tonight against Florida.

The Panthers enter tonight’s game on a six-game winning streak, winning two games each against the Stars, Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Expect the two games against Florida to feel like playoff games with the crucial points that are on the line.

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

  • The Hurricanes are 3-1 against the Panthers this season. They lost the first matchup 4-3 in overtime, but have reeled off three straight against Florida. Tonight will be the fifth of eight games against Florida this season.
  • Vincent Trocheck has four goals in four games this season against his former team. He leads all Hurricanes in goals scored against Florida this season. The Panthers drafted Trocheck in the third round (64th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft and he played in 420 games for the Panthers from 2014-20. He had 282 points in his time with the Panthers. Trocheck is on fire since his return from injury with one goal and four assists and has a four-game point streak since his return on March 30.
  • James Reimer or Alex Nedeljkovic could start in net tonight after Mrazek’s shutout against Dallas on Sunday. Both Reimer and Nedeljkovic have started twice this season against Florida. Reimer is 2-0 with a .907 SV% and 2.40 GAA. Nedeljkovic is 1-0-1 with a .928 SV% and 2.90 GAA against the Panthers this season.
  • The Panthers are playing without defenseman and alternate captain Aaron Ekblad, who is out for 12 weeks after suffering a fracture in his lower leg against Dallas on March 28. Ekblad had 11 goals and 11 assists in 35 games this season and was one of the anchors of the Panthers’ defense.
  • Florida alternate captain Jonathan Huberdeau, who enters tonight’s game with 14 goals and 28 assists, has three goals and two assists this season against the Hurricanes.
  • Dougie Hamilton notched his 100th career goal on Saturday night against the Stars to become the fifth active NHL defenseman to score 100 goals in his first 600 NHL games played, joining Eric Karlsson, Shea Weber, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Roman Jossi.
  • Brett Pesce notched an assist on the Jordan Martinook game winning goal on Sunday to extend his assist streak to three games. This is the second time this season that Pesce has had an assist in at least three consecutive games.
  • With the Hurricanes win on Sunday, they set the franchise record for standings points through the team’s first 37 games of any season (53). The previous record was 50 in the 2005-06 season.