Alex Nedeljkovic robbed Jonathan Huberdeau with a ridiculous glove with 3:18 remaining in regulation, the best of his 32 saves, as the Carolina Hurricanes held off the Florida Panthers for a 4-2 victory at the BB&T Center.
Sebastian Aho scored two shorthanded goals, one on a 2-on-0 break with Martin Necas and the other into an empty net with 16 seconds, also from Necas, who finished the game with three assists. The first shorty, which put Carolina up 3-1 late in the second period, turned out to be the game-winner.
The Panthers opened the scoring 6:22 into the first, when after two saves by Nedeljkovic, Patric Hornqvist was able to throw puck back out in front and Aleksander Barkov was able to put it over the fallen keeper from the right circle. The secondary assist on Barkov’s 20th of the campaign went to Nikita Gusev.
Florida had two power play chances before heading to the dressing room, but failed to add to its lead or generate any momentum, and it ended up coming back to haunt them in the second.
A pair of Jordan’s hooked up 14 seconds into the middle frame when Staal fed an open Martinook in the slot from behind the net to tie the score.
The Hurricanes would take the lead with a power-play goal at the 11:09 mark. After taking a crossing pass from Necas, Brett Pesce couldn’t get it to go, but Nino Niederreiter was able to swat the rebound by Sergei Bobrovsky.
Pesce would be off for hooking when Gusev’s weak pass back to Brandon Montour was poked away by Necas, leading to a 2-on-0 break. Necas passed to Aho, who went back to Necas, who went back to Aho, who slammed it by a left for dead Bobrovsky.
After getting blown away by the Hurricanes in second, the Panthers flipped the script in the third, outshooting the visitors by a robust 19-6 count. Unfortunately, the Cats could only muster up one goal, and they needed a two-man advantage do it,
Barkov got his second of the night with 7:58 left in the tilt, when after a series of passes between himself and Huberdeau, he took a feed from Keith Yandle and moved into the high slot before beating Nedeljkovic with a wrister.
The Cats would get two more cracks at the Carolina penalty kill, but they came empty to finish the night a dreadful 1 for 9 on the power play with two shorthanded goals against.
I’ll start my thoughts in what some might consider an odd place, Whenever I see or hear people talk about Joel Quenneville being named coach of the year, I scoff at the notion. Games like this are why. A coach who doesn’t ice the strongest lineup and give his team the best chance of winning simply doesn’t deserve it. Yandle was pretty bad last night and was a big part of why the power play couldn’t convert eight times, costing the team a potential win and wasting another monster night from Barkov and a pretty solid start from Bobrovsky, who stopped 25 of 28 shots. On top of that, the Hurricanes have now beaten the Panthers six straight times in largely the same fashion. Nothing new in the tactical department, Coach Q and crew? Somehow Detroit has figured out how to beat the Hurricanes four times this season, but the Cats can’t? In the three losses to Carolina this month only one guy has managed to score against them, Barkov. How is that possible? At least they kept Vincent Trocheck off the score sheet this time, so there’s that... Florida out-shot (34-29) and out-hit (28-18) Carolina, yet the Hurricanes are now 6-0-1 against the Cats in 2021. Yikes! I’m not a big “must win” guy when it comes to regular season games (unless a team is playing for its playoff life), but it would sure be nice if the Panthers could exorcise their demons against Carolina on Saturday.
Wind & Water
- Aleksander Barkov scored two goals for the third time this season. As mentioned above, Barkov’s first goal was his 20th of the season, marking his sixth consecutive season with at least 20 goal. Number sixteen won 16 of his 20 faceoffs and led the Panthers with six shots on goal (tied) and 25:24 TOI. He has collected eight goals and 11 points over his past 11 games played.
- Jonathan Huberdeau extended his point streak to six games (2G/6A). His assist was his 50th point of the season, marking the fourth consecutive season he has registered at least 50 points.
- In addition to bogging down the Panthers power play, Keith Yandle appeared in his 914th consecutive NHL game, tying Garry Unger for second-most consecutive games played in NHL history.
- Defensemen Brett Pesce played 28:18 and Jaccob Slavin played 27:05. Andrei Svechnikov led the Hurricanes with five shots on goal.
- Patric Hornqvist has posted at least a point in each of his past four games played (2G/2A).
- Ryan Lomberg registered his fourth fighting major of the season and his third in his past six games, against Cedric Paquette.
- For more on Florida’s latest failure against Carolina, visit Canes Country.