Two months ago it would have been ridiculously foolish to imagine the Panthers clinging to a one-point lead over presumably dead-and-buried Carolina. As with many aspects of life in PantherLand, the outlandish became the reality going into this one.
A spirited, hard-fought win over Philadelphia Thursday evening wasn't quite enough to revive playoff hopes, but it was a game which displayed Florida's desire to remain in contention. Handily defeating division rival Carolina on Saturday - a Hurricanes club coming off seven straight wins - went a lot further toward keeping those hopes alive.
Goaltender Tomas Vokoun continued his recent mastery, allowing one goal - a massive defensive lapse by teammates engaged in a scrum around the crease - on 32 shots by the visitors. Otherwise, the Cats were impenetrable.
Michael Frolik opened the scoring - his third goal in two nights - in a penalty-filled first frame on a pretty wrister, followed by Kamil Kreps (!), Cory Stillman (1g, 1a), and an EN by Kreps (!!!).
Jussi Jokinen had the lone Carolina goal, assisted by Brandon Sutter and Tuomo Ruuttu.
Spoiler warning for Leafs Fans: Defenseman Bryan McCabe potted a three-point night, giving the FLA captain seven points in his past two.
The Hurricanes' Justin Peters stopped 26 of 29 shots. Newly acquired Panthers winger Byron Bitz finished with 3 SOG (0 points) and 11:52 TOI.