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Carolina Hurricanes vs. Florida Panthers: Eastern Conference Final game 1 preview, lineups and game discussion

The Hurricanes and Panthers will finally kick off the Eastern Conference Final tonight as the a Southeast Division rivalry begins anew.

New Jersey Devils v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Five Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Getty Images

The day is finally here. After a full week off, the Hurricanes will finally begin their long-awaited Eastern Conference Final against a former Southeast Division rival in the Florida Panthers.

The storylines for this series are manifold: All three NHL Staal brothers sharing the ice, Rod Brind’Amour vs. Paul Maurice behind the bench, and the renewal of a Southeast Division rivalry.

Of course, there’s also the small matter of these teams battling it out for a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, and it all starts tonight in what’s sure to be a raucous PNC Arena.

The Hurricanes will get a major reinforcement back in the lineup, as Teuvo Teravainen returns for the first time since suffering a broken hand in game 2 of the first-round series against the Islanders. He’ll slot in on a line with Jordan Staal and Martin Necas.

In net, it’ll be Frederik Andersen getting his seventh straight start after a sterling start to his Hurricanes playoff career against the Islanders and Devils.

Florida’s lineup holds no surprises: the Hurricanes will look to bring the red-hot Sergei Bobrovsky back down to Earth. There are former Hurricanes galore in the Florida lineup, including Eric Staal, Zac Dalpe, Eetu Luostarinen, Gustav Forsling and backup goalie Alex Lyon.

Game Notes:

  • This is the first all-time playoff meeting between the former Southeast Division rivals, and the Panthers are the 14th different playoff opponent for the Hurricanes in their team history.
  • You might have heard about this, but this will be the first playoff series featuring all of Eric, Jordan and Marc Staal. Jordan and Marc last faced off in the 2020 Toronto bubble, and Eric and Jordan squared off in the 2009 Eastern Conference Final.
  • The Hurricanes have several players entering this series on hot streaks: Jesper Fast and Jordan Martinook are both on five-game point streaks, and Jaccob Slavin is on a four-game point streak.

Hurricanes projected lineup

Stefan Noesen — Sebastian Aho — Seth Jarvis
Jordan Martinook — Jesperi Kotkaniemi — Jesper Fast
Teuvo Teravainen — Jordan Staal — Martin Necas
Jack Drury — Paul Stastny — Derek Stepan

Jaccob Slavin — Brent Burns
Brady Skjei — Brett Pesce
Shayne Gostisbehere — Jalen Chatfield

Frederik Andersen
Antti Raanta

Scratched: Dylan Coghlan, Calvin de Haan, Jesse Puljujarvi, Pyotr Kochetkov

Injured: Andrei Svechnikov (torn ACL), Max Pacioretty (torn Achilles), Teuvo Teravainen (fractured hand), Ondrej Kase (concussion)

Panthers projected lineup

Carter Verhaeghe — Aleksander Barkov — Anthony Duclair
Nick Cousins — Sam Bennett — Matthew Tkachuk
Eetu Luostarinen — Anton Lundell — Sam Reinhart
Colin White — Eric Staal — Zac Dalpe

Gustav Forsling — Aaron Ekblad
Marc Staal — Brandon Montour
Josh Mahura — Radko Gudas

Sergei Bobrovsky
Alex Lyon

Scratched: Givani Smith, Mike Benning, Casey Fitzgerald, Evan Fitzpatrick
Injured: Ryan Lomberg (upper body), Patric Hornqvist (concussion)