After not scoring for a couple games, the Carolina Hurricanes got two big third period goals from Alexander Semin to squeak out a 3-2 decision over the Florida Panthers. The loss was the second straight for the Cats, who delivered another clunker after getting blanked by San Jose in their last outing.
After Carolina outshot Florida 15-13 during a scoreless first period, Riley Nash got the Canes on the board 3:37 into second by rapping the puck past a downed Tim Thomas. Former Panther Radek Dvorak set up the goal with a nice shot/pass that Nash was able to gather in and fire home.
The Cats replied later in the frame when Tomas Kopecky and Tom Gilbert combined to keep the puck in the Carolina end. The puck wound up on the stick of Jonathan Huberdeau and the struggling sophomore was able to find Marcel Goc on the doorstep to even the game. The goal was Goc's ninth of the season.
Carolina regained the lead 2:31 into third period after Eric Staal beat Nick Bjugstad on a draw in the offensive zone. Gilbert left Semin the necessary time and space to corral the puck and quickly wire a wrist shot past a startled Thomas.
The dangerous Russian struck again with the Cats doing their usual bumbling and stumbling on the power play. Tomas Fleischman's attempt from the point was blocked and Staal collected the puck to feed a streaking Semin for the shorthanded breakaway goal.
It looked that would be all she wrote, until the Panthers got a lifeline when a Dmitry Kulikov shot bounced off of Jordan Staal past Anton Khudobin with 5:39 left on the clock. Bjugstad and Kopecky picked up the helpers on Kulikov's third marker.
Except for a Sean Bergenheim drive from up high in the slot right after the goal, the Cats didn't really muster up much of an effort to send the game to overtime. Bjugstad took a good rip with about fifteen seconds left, but missed the net.
This was a tilt the Panthers could have won had the effort been better, or maybe if they just had played a cleaner game, or maybe if they could actually score on the power play. Instead, Florida played with too little urgency (disturbing coming hard on the heels of the shutout loss to the Sharks), failed to pressure Semin on his first goal and then surrendered a shortie to him six minutes later, and went a horrid 0 for 5 on the power play. Hard to figure, not only because they just got beat by San Jose, but because they face a much better team than the Canes next in Pittsburgh, and oh yeah, every loss puts them further behind in the wildcard chase.
Odds & Ends
- Despite not coming up with a goal, the Killer B's line put in another good effort with Aleksander Barkov, Sean Bergenheim and Brad Boyes combining for 16 shots on goal.
- Anton Khudobin made 37 saves to raise his record to 7-2 and lower his GAA to a stingy 2.00
- Tim Thomas made 36 saves to keep the Cats in the game and give them a chance at least a point. If more of the other guys on the roster could duplicate his will to win, things would be a lot better.
- Semin's shorthanded goal was Carolina league-leading ninth of the season.
- Jonathan Huberdeau's helper snapped a five-game scoring slump. Hubs put in a better effort tonight. Let's hope that continues and many points follow.
- Florida's power play drought has now reached a whopping 32. Failing on the Dvorak double-minor in the second, with Kulikov finding the post and Flash fanning on a good chance, was particularly painful. I hope when it finally rains, it pours, hard.
- If you think nothing's finer than Carolina (or just want more on the game) check out Canes Country.