NHL Game Summary - Carolina at Florida|
(Thursday, March 20th)
Final Score: Carolina 2, Florida 1 (SO)
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Eric Staal squirted the shootout winner
through the pads of Florida goaltender Tomas Vokoun, giving the Carolina
Hurricanes a 2-1 victory over the previously streaking Panthers at
Staal's goal followed that of Sergei Samsonov, preserving the win for
Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward, who made 36 saves to help Carolina to its third
"We knew it was going to be a big game," Staal said. "We knew they were going
to come out hard. I thought, (in) the first period, we were all over them,
really generating some chances and got the lead. From there (we) got into a
bit of penalty trouble. They generated some chances. They played hard and we
knew that. In the end, we stayed with it, fought hard and it was a big win in
the shootout, and obviously Cam was tremendous."
Trevor Letowski provided the regulation goal for the Hurricanes, who have won
eight of nine overall and hold a commanding seven-point advantage over second-
place Washington in the Southeast Division, as well as an eight-point margin
over the third-place Panthers.
Stephen Weiss scored the lone Florida goal, and Vokoun turned away 41 shots,
but the Panthers saw their franchise-record-tying seven-game win streak halted
after neither Nathan Horton nor Weiss was able to come through on shootout
The Panthers have 79 points, three behind Philadelphia for the final playoff
spot in the Eastern Conference. Buffalo has 81 points and Washington 80.
"It's always tough to lose like that, a big game, but we have seven games left
and still have a chance," Vokoun said. "I think we did everything well except
scoring. Sometimes that's how it goes. Their goalie played good. It's tough."
Vokoun stopped Carolina's initial shooter, Jeff Hamilton, on his backhand
attempt, but Horton made one move too many and fired his backhander wide of
the net. Samsonov then put the pressure on Florida when he flipped a
backhanded wrister off the pads of Vokoun and into the net.
Ward came up with a big stick save on Weiss' wrister, setting up Staal's
winner, which simply found its way through Vokoun and trickled over the goal
line for the win.
Despite losing ground in the divisional race, Florida did make up a point on
Philadelphia, which currently holds the eighth and final seed in the Eastern
Conference playoff race. The idle Flyers, with 82 points, are now just three
points ahead of the Panthers after Florida's extra-session loss.
Letowski put the 'Canes up just 3:22 into the first period when he controlled
the puck just over the blue line and caught Vokoun off guard by firing a wrist
shot that fluttered under the goaltender's left arm.
Ward stopped 16 shots during the second period to protect Carolina's lead,
including an impressive glove save on an Olli Jokinen blast from in close with
about five minutes to go.
Florida had four power-play opportunities in the stanza -- three of which came
in the final five minutes -- but couldn't capitalize and headed to the third
still facing a one-goal deficit.
Less than 30 seconds into the third, though, the Panthers broke through. David
Booth fired a shot from near the Carolina blue line, and Weiss corralled the
rebound and flipped it over the shoulder of Ward to tie the game.
Neither team was able to generate much offense through the rest of regulation.
Vokoun stopped five shots in the OT and Ward hardly had to sweat in turning
away just one Florida chance.
Florida had a five-game home win streak snapped...Panthers center Brett McLean
had a five-game point streak ended...Ward had played in a career-best 14
consecutive games, going 11-2-1 during that stretch, and picked up his first
shootout win of the season...Florida is 5-6 in shootouts this year...Prior to
the game, Carolina placed forward Matt Cullen on injured reserve with a head
03/21 03:16:21 ET