Sunday, March 7

Panthers attempt to hand Hurricanes first home loss of season


The Florida Panthers, who just won two of reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning’s three games, are up for another big challenge Wednesday night.

Florida will visit the Carolina Hurricanes, who are 4-0-0 at home this season. The Panthers, meanwhile, are 4-0-1 on the road.

However, in the two recent victories over Tampa Bay, Florida scored a combined 11 goals against a Lightning defense that ranked No. 1 in the NHL.

“A lot of people doubted us at the beginning of the year,” Panthers forward Anthony Duclair said. “I think we proved that a lot of people were wrong in the last three games. We want to make sure that we are playing our best against these (best) teams.”

The Panthers showed a lot of speed in Monday’s 6-4 win over the Lightning. At one point in the second period, the Panthers scored four goals on four shots in a 7:37 span.

“We’re at our best,” Duclair said, “when we put the puck out really fast.”

In terms of the Panthers’ streaks and milestones, Frank Vatrano has one goal in each of his last three games, and captain Aleksander Barkov on Monday moved to second place in franchise history with 421 points. His teammate Jonathan Huberdeau (454 points) tops the list.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes can score too. They have scored 16 goals during their three-game winning streak, including Monday’s 7-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Hurricanes have not lost consecutive games all season, and have been limited to less than two goals just once, in a 1-0 overtime victory over Tampa Bay on Jan. 28.

Carolina scored six straight goals in Monday’s win, including one from Teuvo Teravainen, who is only just beginning to regain her previous performance level after missing three games on the COVID protocol.

“I just haven’t felt normal,” he said. “I get tired on my legs. My timing too (has been out of place). But it’s starting to feel a little better.”

One of the hottest hurricanes is captain Jordan Staal, who has five goals and three assists in his last five games.

Additionally, forward Cedric Paquette made his Hurricanes debut after being acquired from the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Paquette led Carolina in hits with five while playing alone at 11:33 on Monday.

“(Paquette is) a player you want on your team,” said Carolina winger Brock McGinn, who scored two goals and two assists Monday. “He’s a guy you don’t want to play against.”

McGinn leads the Hurricanes in goals with seven, Staal leads in points (14) and Sebastian Aho leads the team in assists (nine).

Former Panthers goalie James Reimer, who won on Monday, is Carolina’s likely starter on Wednesday. He is 7-1-0 with an average of 3.10 goals against.

The Panthers are likely to return with goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who was off Monday. He has started three of Florida’s last four games and is 5-1-1 with 3.33 GAA.

Huberdeau leads the Panthers in assists (12) and points (17). Carter Verhaeghe leads the team in goals (seven).

–Field level media



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