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
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