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Carolina Hurricanes vs. Florida Panthers game two preview

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It’s a battle for first place in the Central Division in game two between the Canes and Panthers Thursday night

Dallas Stars v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

As far as the regular season goes, the stakes don’t get much higher than this. Following the Canes’ 5-2 win over Florida Tuesday, the Canes are a point behind the Panthers for the top spot in the division. Given Carolina’s two games in hand, the winner of this game will find itself in first place, as a win in any fashion by the Hurricanes could vault them over the Panthers.

As Rod Brind’Amour continues to juggle his new-found, three-goalie situation, we have no word on a starter in net for the Hurricanes for this pivotal matchup, but we should have that answer after today’s 10:30 a.m. morning skate.

Here’s how the Canes and Panthers match up tonight:

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

  • It remains to be seen if Petr Mrazek will be back in net tonight or if Brind’Amour will turn back to James Reimer or Alex Nedeljkovic, but Mrazek’s been excellent since returning from a 66-day absence, with a 28-save shutout over Dallas and 34 saves on 36 shots Tuesday. On the season, Mrazek is 4-1-0 with a .962 save percentage and .99 goals-against average.
  • If Brind’Amour does go with Mrazek, it’ll be just the second time this season a Hurricanes goalie has made three or more consecutive starts this season. Reimer got four straight starts from Jan. 31-Feb. 7 after Mrazek was injured before Nedeljkovic got his first start.
  • Vincent Trocheck, who’s now once again tied for the Hurricanes’ team lead with 15 goals on the season, is a pretty good bet to score tonight. He’s yet to face the Panthers, his former team, without scoring, with five goals in five games against them this season.
  • Trocheck is also on fire of late. He’s on a five-game point streak since returning from an eight-game injury, with two goals and seven points in that span. He also has at least a point in each of his last 11 games overall, with six goals and 15 points in that span.
  • Sebastian Aho also had a big night Tuesday with three assists. That took him to the edge of a milestone, as his next point will be his 300th NHL point.
  • The Hurricanes’ win Tuesday night snapped a six-game winning streak for the Panthers, was the first time this season the Canes won (they were 0-4-0 previously) when trailing after two periods, and the Panthers’ first regulation loss when leading after two (18-0-1) previously.
  • Aleksander Barkov will again be one the Hurricanes will have to keep their eye on, as after posting two goals Monday, he has five points in his last three games.
  • Johnathan Huberdeau has also been on a recent tear, with six points in his last seven games.