- Though the Carolina Hurricanes refused to make excuses, fatigue certainly played a factor in the team’s 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers, as the Canes played their third game in four nights and second in a row. Taking a scoreless game into the third period, the team surrendered three straight goals, including two on the power play, in just over six minutes. After Jordan Staal netted a power play goal, the team’s first since March 9 against New Jersey, Florida added an empty-netter to seal their victory. “We’re not going to make any excuses, but when we lost Faulk, more than anything, going down to five D in back-to-back games made it really hard on our D going into the third,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “When you lose a D like that, it kind of starts to put some holes in the game heading into the third period.”
- The Hurricanes played the third period with just five defensemen, as Justin Faulk left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury and did not return. At a couple of points in the middle frame, the Canes had just three defensemen on the bench. Bobby Sanguinetti was cut on the lip with a skate, and he received 13 stitches. Tim Gleason was cut above the eye with a high-stick, and he received 16 stitches. In total, the Canes had logged more stitches than shots (29 to 22, respectively) after 40 minutes. “To me, it looked like we kind of ran out of steam,” Eric Staal said. “We started to make some mental errors.”
- It’s not hard to look back on the box score and pinpoint a specific time Carolina could have taken hold of the game: they had a four-minute power play just past the midway point of the second period and couldn’t connect. “I think it’s mental more than anything,” Muller said. “We have the skill level that our power play should work.”
- Jordan Staal, who eventually tallied a power play goal late in the game, had this to say about the man-advantage: “Our power play has got to find a way. That’s kind of been the story all year.”
- Though the team’s penalty kill started the season slowly, it’s been a difference-maker as of late, going 40-for-44 (90.9 percent) coming into tonight. However, a pair of power play goals ultimately cost the Canes tonight. Dan Ellis on special teams: “We need to improve that, both the penalty kill and the power play. We’re at the bottom of the league in both of them. That’s not going to win you games when you’re sitting at those two levels. We have to pick it up as a team. It’s just not good enough.”
- In net for the second straight night, Ellis posted 40 saves. He also recorded the secondary assist on Staal’s goal, his second helper of the season. “There is no excuse,” Ellis said of the outcome. “Guys had the morning off, we didn’t have to skate or anything, we had all day to rest up and we just didn’t work.”
- This was the final Southeast Division match-up between these two teams. Coming into tonight’s game, the Hurricanes had a 28-6-4 record against the Panthers since moving to Raleigh; the team was 5-6-1 versus Florida in Greensboro.
- A short memory will be beneficial for the team, as they get back at it on Thursday against New Jersey before an odd four-day break finds its way into the otherwise compact schedule. “No one said it was going to be easy,” Muller said. “This is going to be a test for our guys.”
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Tomas Fleischmann, Marcel Goc and Shawn Matthias scored 6:12 apart in the third period to lead the Florida Panthers past the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Jacob Markstrom stopped 33 shots while flirting with his first career shutout, and Filip Kuba had two assists.
The last-place Panthers scored the first three goals and held on to snap their six-game losing streak.
Markstrom was 2:33 from the shutout when Jordan Staal scored for Carolina.
Dan Ellis stopped 40 shots for the Hurricanes, who entered atop the Southeast Division but lost their fourth straight.
An untimely turnover by Bobby Sanguinetti - one of three Carolina defensemen who were injured in the first two periods - wound up turning into the game's first goal.
His misplay near Ellis sent the puck to Tomas Kopecky, who set up Fleischmann's wrister to make it 1-0 at 7:39.
Goc scored on a tip-in on a 5-on-3 power play at 12:47, and Matthias added a goal with the man advantage at 13:51.
Jerred Smithson added an empty-netter with 52.4 seconds left.
That was enough offense for the Panthers behind Markstrom, the second-year goalie who entered 1-5-1 this season with a goals-against average of 3.29.
He certainly found a groove against a Carolina offense that, until the final minutes, had sputtered. Since blowing a 2-0 lead in a 3-2 loss to division rival Washington on March 14, the Hurricanes have managed just three goals in their next three games.
Their power-play unit, the second-worst in the NHL, struggled against the Panthers' league-worst penalty-kill. Their frustration boiled over when Alexander Semin skated to the bench after his shift and whacked his stick on the boards.
That came during a critical 4-minute power play after Scottie Upshaw received a double-minor for high-sticking a bloodied Tim Gleason - one of those three injured Hurricanes defensemen.
Justin Faulk suffered an apparent right leg injury during a collision behind the boards with Jack Skille moments before Gleason was hurt and didn't return, while Sanguinetti appeared to take a skate to his face with 7:03 left in the first but was back for the second. Gleason returned for the final 2 minutes of the period.
Both teams certainly had plenty of chances early: Semin clicked a pass off the shaft of a Florida player's stick on its way across the crease, Kevin Westgarth rang the post, and Drayson Bowman had a breakaway yet couldn't get a shot off on Markstrom after the puck rolled off his stick.
The Panthers - who won for just the seventh time since beating Carolina in the opener - couldn't get anything past Ellis for two periods, either, despite peppering him with a handful shots in roughly a minute of the first. The Carolina goalie swatted away a slap shot from Erik Gudbranson as the horn sounded to end the second.
Notes: The teams split the season series 2-2. ... Carolina's record against the Panthers at PNC Arena is 28-7-4. ... Westgarth dropped LW Eric Selleck during a brief fight with 2:58 left. ... Before the game, the Panthers recalled C Quinton Howden from San Antonio of the AHL, then scratched him.
Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at (at)JoedyAP.