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To put it lightly, the Hurricanes aren’t particularly thrilled with the way they lost to the Florida Panthers a few nights ago. The good news is, they don’t have to wait long for a second chance.
The Panthers will be in town on Saturday night in a rematch of that 3-2 loss on Halloween night. The Hurricanes were up 2-1 with just over eight minutes to go, but ended up losing 4-2 after being called twice for diving in the final frame.
That came after Florida had accused the Hurricanes in the media of diving in games last season, sparking a mini war of words in the papers since. As for whether that will play a factor in the upcoming rematch, some players think so…
“With all the stuff they’ve been saying in the newspapers, it’s a bunch of garbage,” said Tim Gleason. “If they want to do some talking, let’s do it on the ice and not in the paper."
…And some don’t.
“I don’t even worry about that,” said Cory Stillman. “We’ve got to look at their team and what we need to do better in terms of winning battles, skating, scoring and getting people to the net. If we can do that, obviously you’ll see us rebound on Saturday night.”
Either way, it has certainly been a compelling beginning to the eight-game season series between these two Southeast Division clubs. With so many games being played within the division, there can be the occasional complaint about how these contests can get a bit monotonous over time.
This time, no one is complaining about having to play Florida again so soon.
“I think it’s a good thing,” said Coach Peter Laviolette. “Obviously when you don’t like the outcome and you don’t like the results, you feel like you have more to show and more that you can do against that opponent. To get them back right away I think is a good thing.”
One thing the Hurricanes will be working on before that game is their penalty kill. The diving calls in the last game, while frustrating, don’t automatically lead to goals. Florida was 3-6 on the power play that night, which was indicative of the 28th-ranked unit’s recent struggles.
”I think that we have the right personnel, and we proved last year that we can get it done within the system, and right now it just hasn’t happened for us,” said Laviolette. We’ll continue to work at it and fine-tune it until we get what we want.”
They’ll also have to contain Olli Jokinen – something that’s proven difficult in recent years. After recording a goal and two assists on Wednesday night, the Panthers captain now has 46 points in 43 career games against Carolina.
Stillman said he couldn’t remember any one player in particular consistently giving his team such a hard time
“He plays extremely well against us,” he said. “If he had to pick his favorite team to play against, it would probably be us based on how he’s done in the last two or three years.”
The Hurricanes will be without the services of defenseman Niclas Wallin for Saturday, and a few weeks afterward. He will undergo shoulder surgery the morning of the game, which will cause him to miss 3-4 weeks.
This comes after he left Wednesday’s game early after re-aggravating the groin injury that caused him to miss the previous two games. As long as he was sitting out with the groin injury anyway, the Hurricanes decided it would be best to go ahead and deal with his shoulder problem.
“We figured we’d kill two birds with one stone,” said Laviolette.