NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, January 3rd (All times eastern)
Florida Panthers (17-17-2) at Carolina Hurricanes (18-15-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes will try to match their longest winning streak of the season when they host the Florida Panthers in tonight's Southeast Division clash at RBC Center.
The Hurricanes have won their last three games to pull within one victory of the club's four-game streak from Dec. 11-18. Unfortunately for Carolina, the club lost three straight in regulation in between the two hot stretches.
Carolina, which is five points out of playoff berth in the East, has outscored the opposition, 14-6, during its three-game win streak and is coming off Saturday's 6-3 triumph over New Jersey.
Tuomo Ruutu had a goal and three assists to lead the Hurricanes to the New Year's Day rout of the visiting Devils. Jeff Skinner and Sergei Samsonov each scored twice while Zac Dalpe notched the other goal for the Hurricanes.
Carolina staked Cam Ward to a 4-0 lead in the first period and the goaltender stopped 25-of-28 shots to make that four-goal edge stand for the win.
"That was a real good first period we had," said Carolina head coach Paul Maurice. "It's a work in progress to get everybody to do it consistently, but it worked out tonight and it's a good way to start the new year."
The Hurricanes had lost two straight and five out of seven on home ice prior to Saturday's win. The club is 8-7-1 overall as the host this season and will play its next two games on the road after tonight.
Carolina has played the last two games without forward Jussi Jokinen (upper body) and defenseman Joni Pitkanen (lower body). Both players are questionable for tonight's tilt.
Florida has notched a point in four straight games (2-0-2), but the Panthers had lost two in a row prior to beating the visiting New York Rangers on Sunday.
The 3-0 victory over the Rangers allowed Florida to end its three-game homestand with a 1-0-2 record. The Panthers are 9-11-0 on the road this year, but they have won four of their last six away from the Sunshine State.
Tomas Vokoun stopped 32 shots for his fifth shutout of the season as the Panthers downed the Rangers, 3-0, at BankAtlantic Center. Chris Higgins, David Booth and Stephen Weiss scored for the Panthers.
"They're a physical team and play hard, we knew we were in for a battle," said Higgins. "Tomas always plays huge for us and when we give him a lead he's real good at locking things down."
Panthers backup goaltender Scott Clemmensen could get the start in net tonight rather than starting Vokoun on consecutive days.
Florida enters tonight as the last-place team in the Southeast Division, but the Panthers are just three points behind Carolina in the standings.
The Hurricanes have won both meetings against Florida since losing the season series opener on Nov. 5 in Sunrise. Carolina has taken four of the last six overall matchups in the series and the Panthers have lost four straight and six of their last seven in Raleigh.
01/03 11:11:25 ET