NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, March 23rd
(All times eastern)
Carolina Hurricanes (39-28-7) at Florida Panthers (35-27-10), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - An important battle in the Eastern Conference playoff race
is on tap tonight in Sunrise, as the Florida Panthers host the Carolina
Hurricanes in a Southeast Division clash at BankAtlantic Center.
The Hurricanes are currently among the East's playoff seeds, as they are sixth
in the conference with 85 points on the year. Florida, however, is ninth in
the East with 80 points and is one point behind Montreal for the conference's
eighth and final postseason berth. The Panthers are trying to make the
playoffs for the first time since 2000.
Tonight's test marks the sixth and final meeting of the regular season between
these Southeast rivals. Florida has won three of the five encounters this
year, but Carolina has still taken seven of 12 overall in the series. However,
the Hurricanes have dropped two straight, three of four and four of their last
six in south Florida.
Carolina comes into tonight's test riding a three-game winning streak and the
club has posted a 7-1-2 record in March. The Hurricanes have also recorded at
least a point in four consecutive games, having lost to Washington in a
shootout just prior to the current winning streak.
The 'Canes exacted a bit of revenge for that shootout loss by downing the
visiting Capitals on Saturday. Cam Ward was stellar between the pipes and Joni
Pitkanen netted the game-winner early in the third period, as Carolina
defeated Washington, 4-1, at RBC Center.
Rod Brind'Amour, Anton Babchuk and Joe Corvo also scored for the Hurricanes,
who have won eight straight as the host. Ward stopped 31-of-32 shots for
Carolina as the netminder started his 21st consecutive for the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes will close out March by playing two of three games on the road.
Carolina, which is 17-15-6 as the guest this year, will host Ottawa on
Wednesday before visiting New Jersey on Saturday.
Unlike Carolina, the Panthers have not been helping their playoff chances
recently, as Florida has dropped five of its last six contests.
The Panthers were dealt a loss their last time out, as Columbus notched a 3-1
win Saturday at BankAtlantic Center. Raffi Torres scored twice late in the
third period as the Blue Jackets came from behind to defeat Florida.
Rostislav Olesz scored the lone goal for the Panthers, while Tomas Vokoun
turned aside 34 shots in the loss.
Florida is 1-2-1 on a five-game homestand that ends tonight. The Panthers are
19-11-6 as the host this year, but have lost four of their last six home
03/23 10:45:45 ET