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Capitals vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Allen Sees Similarities in Canes, Panthers

Wednesday, 03.21.2012 / 12:08 PM / 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.”



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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
3 NYI 62 40 20 2 200 173 82
4 TBL 62 37 19 6 203 167 80
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 62 33 19 10 184 156 76
8 BOS 60 29 22 9 158 158 67
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 61 25 27 9 137 161 59
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 59 22 30 7 134 159 51
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 59 11 27 -16 38
E. Staal 54 18 18 -9 36
E. Lindholm 58 11 15 -16 26
J. Skinner 54 15 9 -16 24
R. Nash 56 7 14 -9 21
N. Gerbe 55 6 14 -13 20
A. Sekera 57 2 17 -7 19
V. Rask 57 8 10 -18 18
J. McClement 59 4 12 1 16
J. Staal 23 4 11 -1 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 16 19 4 .914 2.35
A. Khudobin 6 11 3 .901 2.73