The Panthers travelled to Raleigh, North Carolina for Steven Kampfer day, looking to keep pace with the Bruins, who beat a toothless Penguins squad earlier, the Flyers, who embarrassed Detroit, and the still hot Ottawa Senators (who the Cats are suddenly looking up the behind of in the standings). Fueled by Dan Ellis' shutout performance, the Cats stayed within six points of the surging B's.
After a scoreless first period where the Huuricanes outshot the Panthers, Brandon Pirri finally lit the lamp to break a 0-0 tie in the second. Pirri took a feed from Big Jimmy Hayes on the power play and snuck a well placed backhand past Cam Ward. It was Pirri's 14th goal of the season, in just 35 games played. The Cats closed out the 2nd period up 1-0.
Ellis played a stellar first and second period, holding the team in the game during a poorly played first 20 minutes. He came up with several critical saves, and let his posts tackle another two Carolina chances to finish the game with a perfect save percentage.
With the Canes pulling their goalie with roughly 3 minutes to play, Derek MacKenzie would fail to capitalize on a pair of empty net opportunities. Fortunately, Dave Bolland was able to put the Cats up two by putting the puck in the basket to close out the scoring, with Jussi Jokinen and MacKenzie collected the helpers.
Now, the Cats are off to Broadway to finish the back-to-backer against the hottest team in the NHL, the New York Rangers.
Odds & Ends
- Dan Ellis raised his record to 3-0-1 since his recall from San Antonio. Eliis was particulary sharp in the first period when Carolina outshot the Cats 15-8.
- Ellis got by with a help from his friends, the posts, as Ron Hainsey and Jeff Skinner rang the iron before Dave Bolland iced the game with his fourth of the season.
- The win was just Florida's eighth in 42 games all-time at the RBC Center.
- Cam Ward had a strong game for the Hurricans, stopping 20 of the 21 shots he faced. His best came with the glove in the first period when he robbed Brandon Pirri, who was set up beautifully by Brad Boyes.
- Defenseman Willie Mitchell led the Cats with four shots on goal.
- The Cats had a real problem with Jordan Staal, who went an impressive 15-of-19, in the face-off dot.
- Erik Gudbranson dished out a game-high five hits and finished with a +1 rating.
- Check out Canes Country for more on Florida's latest shutout victory over Carolina.