After gunning down the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils by identical 5-1 scores, the Florida Panthers charted a different course of adventure in Raleigh, blanking the Carolina Hurricanes by a 2-0 count to wrap up yet another successful (3-1) road trip.
Goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Cam Ward kept the game scoreless after forty minutes. The second period ended with the Hurricanes holding a 15-12 advantage in the shots on goal department. The Cats killed off two penalties and failed on power-play chance of their own.
Willie Mitchell struck for his first goal of the season at 4:09 of the final frame. The veteran defender jumped into the slot and one-timed a pretty pass from Jonathan Huberdeau by Ward for the eventual game-winner. Aleksander Barkov picked up his tenth helper of the year with the secondary assist.
The Cats defense continued to stifle, holding the Hurricanes to just 9 shots during the third. Luongo was up to the task on all, finishing with 24 saves, and making it look rather routine, to register his second shutout of 2015-16 and the 70th of illustrious career.
Reilly Smith lit the lamp for the fifth time in the last six games to put the game away with twenty-one ticks left on the clock. The empty-netter was Smith's team-leading eleventh goal. The 24-year-old winger scored in all four games of the trip.
The win pushed the Panthers past the Devils and into the second wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference standings. The Cats return home to the BB&T Center for a Sunday afternoon tilt against the struggling Vancouver Canucks.
Sand Bags & Shutters
- Willie Mitchell's goal was his first since April 2nd and ended a 36-game drought for the grizzled 38-year-old. In addition to scoring, Mitchell led the Panthers in shots on goal with three.
- The Cats allowed just five total goals on the four-game road trip, with three of those coming in the opening 3-1 defeat to the Boston Bruins. Kudos to the club for shaking off that disappointing loss to run off three straight wins.
- Florida is now one of just six teams to win ten or more road games this season. The others: San Jose (12), Boston (11), Dallas (11), Colorado (11) and Washington (10).
- Set-up men Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov were the only Cats to finish with a +2 rating. The duo each registered two shots on goal.
- Cam Ward was solid in the Carolina net, finishing with 16 saves on the 17 shots he faced. The loss evened Ward's record at 9-9-3.
- Jeff Skinner led all skaters with a game-high four shots on goal. Skinner also had two blocks and a takeaway.
- Corban Knight continues to impress filling in for Derek MacKenzie. Knight had another strong night in the dot, going an impressive 8-for-12.
- Jaromir Jagr remained quiet in the goal-scoring department and finished up with just one shot. Jagr has scored only once in his last twelve games, but he does have five assists in that stretch.
- war-on-ice has covered with the fancy advanced stats stuff right here.
- To us, nothing's finer than beating Carolina, but the folks at Canes Country might feel otherwise.
Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)