Back-to-back wins remain elusive for the Florida Panthers in 2014. Two nights after rallying for a fun-filled, 3-2 comeback shootout victory over Ottawa, the Cats got blanked by the visiting Carolina Hurricanes and goaltender Anton Khudobin 3-0 before a sparse crowd at the BB&T Center. The last time the Panthers cobbled together a meager two-game winning streak was with consecutive wins over Pittsburgh and Buffalo on January 20th and 21st.
Former Panther Radek Dvorak ran over Roberto Luongo at the 12:48 mark of the first period and got a five-minute charging major and game misconduct for the effort. The Panthers star keeper stayed in the game until the end of the opening frame, but was relieved by Dan Ellis at the start of the second. The move was said to be a precautionary one.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23FlaPanthers&src=hash">#FlaPanthers</a> Roberto Luongo left the game after the first with an upper body injury--pulled as a precautionary measure.</p>— Florida Panthers PR (@FlaPanthersPR) <a href="https://twitter.com/FlaPanthersPR/statuses/449352986763218944">March 28, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Luongo did yield one goal, to Jiri Tlusty, a few minutes before the collision. Tlusty beat Ellis early in the second period to put the Canes up by two and raise his goal total to fourteen.
Jeff Skinner dented Ellis again 3:16 later, after taking a pass from behind the cage from Patrick Dwyer, to complete the scoring.
The Panthers outshot the Hurricanes 12-5 in the third and had the period's only power play chance, but they could just not cut into the deficit.
Florida ended up launching 35 shots at Khudobin, who had all the answers and posted his first shutout of the season.
The playoff-bound Montreal Canadiens are next up on the slate. Les Habitants should bring a better crowd and more energy to the BB&T on Saturday night. Let's hope up the Cats are up for it. With only eight games left in the string, can the Panthers hit the 30-win mark?
Flotsam & Jetsam
- The Hurricanes went a perfect three for three against the Panthers this season, winning all of them in regulation. Ouch. The Canes aren't all that good, what does that say about the Cats?
- Luongo ended up stopping 11 of the 12 shots he faced. After some early trouble, Ellis stabilized and ended up with 18 saves in his most solid performance as a Panther to date.
- The Panthers were whitewashed for the sixth time this season. Carolina was the first Eastern Conference outfit to pin a shutout on the Cats. The other teams were St. Louis (twice), Los Angeles (twice), and San Jose.
- Erik Gudbranson returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a lower-body injury. Guds logged just over 19-minutes of ice time and finished the game with two shots on goal, three hits and a -1 rating.
- Florida was without the services of Jonathan Huberdeau, who missed his sixth straight game and Tom Gilbert, who had season-ending surgery for a sports hernia. Wonder if that's it for Gilbert as a Panther.
- The win allowed the Hurricanes to stay in the playoff race mathematically. Carolina is still seven points out with only ten games to go, so their chances are slim. However, they needed to win and they did handily, so hats off to them, I guess.
- The Panthers historically bad power play went 0 for 3 on the night. Of course it did.
- Scottie Upshall finished with a game-high seven shots, but could not bag goal number fifteen.
- For more on Carolina's relatively meaningless sweep, head on up to Canes Country.