Sliding Panthers visit Hurricanes
The Panthers would like to bring a halt to their constant bouncing around in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but a trip to the RBC Center might not be the cure to what is ailing them.
Florida looks to snap a season high-tying losing streak this evening as it battles the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Panthers dropped three straight in regulation prior to Thursday's 3-2 shootout setback to the Wild. The defeat gave Florida its longest skid of the season since an 0-2-2 drought from Jan. 13-20.
The loss also pushed Florida out of first place in the Southeast Division, one point behind Winnipeg. The Panthers fell from the conference's third seed all the way down to eighth, just one point ahead of the Maple Leafs and Washington.
Sean Bergenheim and Mikael Samuelsson scored in regulation versus the Wild, but both Kris Versteeg and Bergenheim failed on their shootout attempts. Jose Theodore, meanwhile, could not come up with stops on Erik Christensen and Matt Cullen in the tiebreaker after making 26 saves through overtime.
"We have to bear down and do our part. If you're not winning games then you are not making the playoffs and that's our goal," Samuelsson said.
Stephen Weiss played in his 614th career game with the Panthers, a new franchise record, but the club could be without Marcel Goc tonight because of a lower-body injury.
The Panthers had lost four of five to the Hurricanes before winning the first two encounters of this season. That includes a 3-1 victory at Carolina on Nov. 29, just Florida's fourth victory in the past 24 games as the visitor in this series.
The Hurricanes come into this divisional clash eight points behind the Panthers in the standings after splitting the first two of a six-game homestand. Carolina opened the residency with a shutout win over Washington before getting dealt a 3-2 shootout defeat by Anaheim on Thursday.
Making his second straight start in place of the injured Cam Ward (lower body), Justin Peters made 35 saves and allowed just one goal in the shootout. However, Jeff Skinner, Eric Staal and Brandon Sutter all came up empty on their chances in the breakaway session.
"There's a lot of pressure. I thought it was a playoff-style game tonight. I went with veteran guys," Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller said of his shootout strategy. "As far as (Staal), he hits the post. I'd use him again."
Jerome Samson and Jamie McBain lit the lamp for the Hurricanes, who have points in eight of their past nine games (5-1-3).
Jiri Tlusty and Staal both logged assists to extend their respective point streaks. Tlusty has four goals and 10 points over his nine-game run, the longest active stretch in the league, while Staal has six goals and 12 points on a seven-game burst.
Both Chad LaRose and Tuomo Ruutu sat out a fourth straight game for the Hurricanes due to upper-body issues.