NHL Game Summary - Carolina at Florida
(Monday, March 23rd)
Final Score: Carolina 3, Florida 2 (OT)
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Ray Whitney scored just 1:36 into overtime as the surging Carolina Hurricanes downed the sliding Florida Panthers, 3-2, at BankAtlantic Center.
In the extra session, Joni Pitkanen sent a pass from the right point to the left circle, where Whitney one-timed it into the net.
Tuomo Ruutu and Patrick Eaves each lit the lamp while Cam Ward made 37 saves for the Hurricanes, who have won four straight games.
"We've always been a team that puts up a lot of mess," said Ward. "We just have to get in the dirty areas in the slots and get those ugly goals. Now things are starting to fall for us and it's nice as a goaltender to have some insurance and some support. The guys have definitely given me that."
Carolina now has 87 points and sits in the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, one ahead of Pittsburgh and three behind Philadelphia. Carolina has just seven games remaining, though, while Pittsburgh has eight to play and Philadelphia has 10 games remaining.
Cory Stillman had a goal and an assist while Jay Bouwmeester also lit the lamp for the Panthers, who have dropped six of their last seven games. Tomas Vokoun made 28 saves in the loss.
Florida, though, has gotten a point in three of those six losses and has 81 points on the season. The team is tied in points with Montreal for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but Montreal has 10 games to play while Florida has nine left.
"It's disappointing, but we got a point. We have nowhere to go but up," said Panthers defenseman Bryan McCabe.
The Panthers drew first blood in the game as Bouwmeester's wrister from the slot found the back of the net just 8:30 into the game.
However, Carolina answered on the power play five minutes later. Anton Babchuk blasted a shot from the high slot that Vokoun stopped, but Ruutu was at the left side to slam home the rebound for his 23rd goal of the season.
The Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead in the final moments of the second period as Eaves jammed the puck in from the left side during a scrum in front of the net.
Ward was solid between the pipes in the second period as he turned aside all 14 shots he faced.
However, Florida was able to tie the game thanks to the power play, after Erik Cole was called for tripping at the 15:24 mark. Just 31 seconds later Stillman was able to slam home the loose puck from the right side with bodies colliding in front.
The Panthers play in Buffalo on Wednesday...Carolina hosts Ottawa on Wednesday...Each team won three games in the season series...Carolina went 1- for-1 on the power play while Florida was 1-for-4.
03/24 02:40:58 ET