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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, April 1st (All times eastern)

Carolina Hurricanes (38-32-8) at Florida Panthers (34-30-14), 5 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes will try to end a costly three-game losing streak today, when they head to BankAtlantic Center to battle the Florida Panthers.

The Hurricanes recent slide has hurt the defending Stanley Cup champion's chances of even making the postseason this year. Carolina has 84 points and is four points behind Montreal for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Hurricanes are tied for 10th in the conference with the Islanders.

Carolina had an important home test against Tampa Bay on Friday and was handed a 4-2 loss by the Lightning. Vincent Lecavalier scored his 50th goal of the season and added a pair of assists, as Tampa Bay earned two big points at the RBC Center.

Erik Cole and Mike Commodore both lit the lamp for Carolina, and Cam Ward surrendered four goals on 29 shots to take the loss.

Tonight's test is the first of two straight on the road for the Hurricanes, who are 18-17-4 as the visiting team this year and have dropped five of their last seven away from Raleigh. Carolina will also visit the Lightning on Tuesday evening before ending the regular season on a two-game homestand.

While the Hurricanes have hurt their playoff chances recently, the Panthers have given themselves a sliver of hope by winning their last three contests. Florida has 82 points and is six behind Montreal for the eighth seed.

Florida's latest triumph came in dramatic fashion Friday against the visiting Washington Capitals. Martin Gelinas scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner in overtime, as the Panthers beat the Capitals, 3-2.

With just 2:01 elapsed in overtime, Stephen Weiss took a slap shot from the right faceoff circle towards the front of the net. Gelinas was camped out in front and the puck hit his stick and went into the net past Brent Johnson. Gelinas wasn't exactly sure the puck went in, as it quickly bounced out after hitting the back crossbar. But replays showed the puck clearly went into the net.

Gregory Campbell also scored and Ed Belfour made 30 saves for the Panthers.

Tonight's game is the final test of a three-game homestand and also the last regular-season game at BankAtlantic Center this year. Florida is 23-12-5 as the host team this year and has won seven of its last 10 in Sunrise.

The Panthers won the first meeting of the year with Carolina, but the Hurricanes have since taken five straight encounters. These teams will meet one more time this year as both clubs close out their regular seasons on April 7 at the RBC Center.

04/01 10:59:05 ET

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