Hurricanes host struggling Panthers hoping to snap skid
The Carolina Hurricanes, losers of three straight, will try to take sole possession of first place in the Southeast Division on Tuesday night as they play host to the struggling Florida Panthers.
The Hurricanes have matched their longest losing streak of the season, but did earn a point on Monday night with a 2-1 shootout defeat at the hands of the New York Rangers. That point pulled Carolina into a tie with the Winnipeg Jets atop the division with 32 points.
The Jets are hosting the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night and the Hurricanes have still played one fewer game than Winnipeg.
Carolina outshot New York 14-6 in the first period of Monday's meeting and took a 1-0 lead on Eric Staal's goal with 51 seconds left in the period. The Hurricanes, though, couldn't solve Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist the rest of the way and saw both of their skaters stopped in the shootout.
Dan Ellis was beaten twice in the breakaway session after posting 35 saves through overtime.
"We wanted to play for that extra point. We felt like played a pretty good game, but we weren't able to capitalize on that," Staal said.
Carolina will now look to take advantage of a meeting with Florida, which is last in the NHL with seven wins and 20 points just one season removed from a Southeast Division title.
The Panthers won five of six versus the Hurricanes last year and took the first meeting of 2013 5-1 in Florida back on Jan. 19. However, Carolina responded by outscoring Florida 9-4 in a home-and-home sweep earlier this month.
Florida was bested 6-2 at Carolina in that set and has lost seven of its past 10 as the guest in this series.
The Panthers have dropped a season-high six straight (0-5-1) for their longest losing streak since going 0-7-3 from March 19-April 8, 2011. Though they rallied from three goals down to tie Saturday's meeting with the New York Islanders in the third period, they ultimately dropped a 4-3 decision.
T.J. Brennan, Marcel Goc and Mike Santorelli scored within a 1:43 span for the Panthers early in the third, but Casey Cizikas had the winner for the Islanders with 7:05 to play.
"We threw a lot of energy out there and got some production," said Florida head coach Kevin Dineen. "But we have to play a more complete game and stop this one-period stuff we've been doing a lot of lately."
Scott Clemmensen gave up all four goals on 25 shots.
The Panthers will open a five-game road trip without captain Ed Jovanovski, who returned from a 22-game absence on Saturday but aggravated a lower body injury and did not finish the game. He is out indefinitely, while forward George Parros suffered an upper body injury versus the Islanders.
Florida has lost four straight on the road.