NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, December 18th
(All times Eastern)
Carolina Hurricanes (10-18-5) at Florida Panthers (17-9-6), 5 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes are starting to see some success
under new head coach Kirk Muller. They'll look to show the Florida Panthers
just how much they've changed as the two club's battle tonight at BankAtlantic
The Hurricanes have posted a 2-1-1 record since a seven-game slide, one that
saw the firing of Paul Maurice on Nov. 28. Muller made his debut the next
night in a loss to the Panthers, the first of four setbacks in a row under the
Muller finally got his first win at Edmonton on Dec. 7 before dropping games
in Winnipeg and Toronto. The coach received a taste of victory on home ice for
the first time on Thursday as his club rallied for a 4-3 win over Vancouver.
Drayson Bowman scored twice and Tuomo Ruutu added a goal during a 4:45 span in
the game that erased a two-goal deficit, and Jaroslav Spacek also lit the
lamp. Cam Ward then made 33 saves to preserve the win, posting some key stops
down the stretch.
"I put a lot of pressure on myself to be great because that's what I expect
from myself," Ward said. "I know I have to be on top of my game to give this
team a chance, and fortunately I was seeing the puck really well tonight."
Though Jeff Skinner and Joni Pitkanen remain out with concussions, Jay
Harrison could return tonight for the first time in 11 games due to an upper-
Skinner had the only Carolina goal and Ward made 18 saves in the 3-1 loss to
the Panthers back in late November. It was the first of six meetings between
the division rivals and just only the Hurricanes' second setback in the past
The 'Canes have lost six of their last nine in Sunrise, where the Panthers
have engaged in 11 straight one-goal games. They dropped a 3-2 shootout to the
Devils to begin a four-game residency on Tuesday, then answered with a 3-2
shootout win over Calgary on Friday.
The Panthers came into the game just 1-4 in shootouts this year and had scored
just once on their 14 chances in the tiebreak. However, they got goals from
Dmitry Kulikov and Stephen Weiss in last night's breakaway session, while Jose
Theodore stopped three of four skaters after posting 24 saves through
Sean Bergenheim scored twice as Florida avoided a fourth straight loss.
"It was one of those games that just built up towards the end," said Florida
head coach Kevin Dineen. "We really played as a team tonight and it was nice
to get those two points."
The Panthers are 7-2-5 at home this year and haven't suffered a regulation
loss at BankAtlantic Center since Nov. 13.
12/18 10:32:01 ET