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Gameday: Allen Sees Similarities in Canes, Panthers

Wednesday, 03.21.2012 / 12:08 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Allen Sees Similarities in Canes, Panthers
Bryan Allen joined the Carolina Hurricanes on the final day of February in 2011, leaving a team in the Florida Panthers well out of the playoff race to join a team right in the thick of it.

Michael Smith
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A year later, Allen’s Hurricanes are on the outside looking in, and the Panthers look to be cruising to what would be their first Southeast Division title in franchise history and their first appearance in the playoffs since the 1999-2000 season.

“I think there’s a lot that’s changed,” Allen said. “They’ve changed the whole perception of things. Dale [Tallon] tried to make a clean slate. It’s tough when you’re in a situation where you lose for so long. You almost forget how to win, sometimes.

“I don’t think we were that far off. There were times earlier in the year that we could have done something different, for sure.”

Sound familiar?

Since head coach Kirk Muller took over head coaching duties at the end of November, the Hurricanes have gone 21-16-11, earning 53 points.

“It just shows you how mental the game is,” Allen said. “We dug ourselves in a hole, and it was hard. We were finding ways to lose. We were in games, could have won games or had a chance to win them, and we couldn’t do it. We almost did it to ourselves. I don’t think we were ever that bad of a team, especially what our record showed.

“You gain a little bit of confidence, there’s a new voice and it’s amazing how things can change,” he said.

That’s what Florida has experienced this season. Coming into Wednesday’s game in Raleigh, the Panthers have won a season-high five straight games, their longest winning streak since their franchise-record seven-game winning streak in March 2008.

“They’re finding ways to win,” Allen said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. They’re believing in themselves, and they’ve got some confidence, which they gained early in the season.”

“They were ready to go right from the beginning, and they’ve carried that momentum,” Muller said of Florida. “The group of guys they brought in has done a good job.”

Florida has gotten the best of the Hurricanes this season, winning all four meetings. But the match-ups have been more closely fought then that statistic shows.

In the teams’ most recent meeting on March 11 in South Florida, the Canes dropped a 2-0 decision in goaltender Jose Theodore’s third shutout of the season. After taking just five shots in the first period, the Hurricanes totaled 29 in the latter two combined in what was a great effort just 21 hours removed from topping Tampa Bay.

Going back to late February in the teams’ most recent meeting in Raleigh, the Canes had a 2-0 lead well into the third period. The Panthers tied the game in the last six minutes of the game, eventually snagging an extra point in the shootout.

The key to finally solving the pesky Panthers?

“Just realizing that you have to play the full game. We’ve been in every game,” Allen said. “We didn’t get the results and realized that there were just a few let-ups, and it costs us.”

“You look at all of our games against them this year, they’re all one-goal-type games,” Muller said. “They’re low-scoring, so we’ve got to find a way to generate a little more offense against them.”

The Hurricanes are looking to extend their winning streak to a season-high four games. Their longest winning streak of the season sits at three, and their longest point streak is six, set in the first weeks of February.

Pitkanen Back in the Lineup

For the first time in 44 games, defenseman Joni Pitkanen will dress for the Hurricanes. Pitkanen has been out of the lineup since Dec. 6, first with a concussion and then with knee surgery.

“He’s ready to go,” Muller said. “Talked to him this morning. He feels good mentally and physically. We want to make sure we got the green light, and he’s excited.”

Pitkanen will be paired with Jamie McBain and will likely see some power play time.

“I hope he plays 30 [minutes],” Muller joked. “He’s been working hard. He’s in great shape. We’ll evaluate him to start, but I think it’s important that he does short shifts and gets his timing and everything back in the flow.”



SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
K. Versteeg 63 11 22 -6 33
E. Staal 63 10 23 -3 33
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81