|FLA||3||0||1||(0 - 0)||4|
|CAR||0||1||0||(0 - 0)||1|
Even in the preseason, tough starts are difficult to overcome. However, there are still things to take away when the score isnt't the most important thing.
Three Florida goals in the first five minutes of Carolina's exhibition opener would be all the offense that was needed in a 4-1 win for the Panthers. The onslaught started when 18-year-old defensemen Erik Gudbranson, taken four spots ahead of Jeff Skinner in this summer’s draft, beat Cam Ward with a low shot from the point. Before the Canes could react, it was 3-0 through further tallies by Michael Santorelli and Scott Timmins.
When the flurry was over, Carolina had given up three goals in a span of 114 seconds as the rigors of training camp seemed to take their toll on the team's energy level.
"Team-wide, expecially in the first period, we didn't skate very well," said coach Paul Maurice, who said he could sense an overall level of nervousness in the locker room even before the game started. "I didn't expect we would. If we come out flying here then I haven't pushed these guys nearly hard enough in the first three days.
"Chad LaRose is always my barometer to where our legs are at, and he said he was feeling his legs in the first period," the coach added. "If he is, then everybody is."
Carolina’s loose play eventually subsided, as the home team was able to generate sustained pressure in the opposite end towards the end of the period and generally got better as the game went along. In the third period, the Hurricanes enjoyed a 13-2 shot advantage but were outscored 1-0.
"Obviouslly the start cost us the game, but at the same time we dominated that second period and we could have tied the game easily at that point," said Patrick O'Sullivan. "If you take the first away it's a decent effort, but obviously there's a lot of room to improve."
O'Sullivan earned a point in his first game in a Hurricanes sweater as he set up defenseman Anton Babchuk for a shorthanded two-on-one in the second period that cut the score to 3-1. The winger, who signed a two-way contract last week but is hoping to re-establish himself as an NHL regular, earned praise for his efforts.
"He was probably for both teams the guy that, even on that ice, could find the puck, handle it and make some plays," said Maurice. "He's very creative, very gifted, and really, really smart. I liked his game tonight."
O'Sullivan nearly found the back of the net himself on a third-period power play, but his redirection on the doorstep was stoped by Florida goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who releived Scott Clemmensen midway through. Earlier in the frame, the Hurricanes came even closer to finding the back of the net when Tuomo Ruutu's rebound attempt from a Babchuk slap shot bounced off the bottom of the post from a sharp angle. The Canes finished the night 0-6 on the power play.
"Both teams were beat the puck up pretty good tonight, so there weren't a lot of smooth, creative plays," said Maurice.
After he signed an entry-level contract with the Hurricanes earlier in the day, all eyes were on recent first-round draft choice Skinner as he made his preseason debut. The center had a few good chances, taking a good stab at a rebound on the doorstep and having a hard shot from the slot stopped by Clemmensen, but did not find the score sheet.
"Part of it is that you've got to put that our of your mind and play hockey," said Skinner of his unorthodox game-day schedule. "I can't really use that as an excuse, and I'm not going to."
"I thought he was on par with most of the forwards for our team tonight," said Maurice. "I thought a little later towards the end he started to do create some things and do some things around the net, which is really where he's good. Our expectation is that he will continue to get better."
Fights are not uncommon during the preseason as players of that ilk take the opportunity to display their trade, but none occurred dispite some warning signals in the third period, each involving Canes defenseman Tim Gleason. Gleason, who served as an alternate captain along with LaRose and Ruutu and had earlier been involved in a shoving match, was nearly goaded into a fight after Nathan Paetsch scored Florida's fourth goal, but appeared to think better of it, perhaps remembering fisticuff-related exhibition injuries to Tom Kostopoulos and Scott Walker in recent years.
Kostopoulos, who tied for the team lead with three shorthanded points last season, earned the secondary helper on Carolina's goal.
|Erik Gudbranson (1) Slapshot - ASST: Shawn Matthias (1)|
1 - 0 FLA
|PPG - Mike Santorelli (1) Snap shot - ASST: Jason Garrison (1), Joe Callahan (1)|
2 - 0 FLA
|Scott Timmins (1) Snap shot - ASST: Evgenii Dadonov (1), Erik Gudbranson (1)|
3 - 0 FLA
|SHG - Anton Babchuk (1) Snap shot - ASST: Patrick O'Sullivan (1), Tom Kostopoulos (1)|
3 - 1 FLA
|Nathan Paetsch (1) Snap shot - ASST: Evgenii Dadonov (2), Joe Callahan (2)|
4 - 1 FLA
|Mike Duco Interference - Goalkeeper - 2 min against Cam Ward|
|Tuomo Ruutu Interference - 2 min against Shawn Matthias|
|Drayson Bowman Tripping - 2 min against Michael Grabner|
|Riley Nash Hooking - 2 min against Evgenii Dadonov|
|Keaton Ellerby Hooking - 2 min against Jeff Skinner|
|Evgenii Dadonov Holding - 2 min against Chad LaRose|
|Scott Timmins Hooking - 2 min against Riley Nash|
|Mike Santorelli Hi-sticking - 2 min against Tim Gleason|
|Tim Gleason Roughing - 2 min against Triston Grant|
|Triston Grant Roughing - 2 min against Tim Gleason|
|Triston Grant served by Mike Duco Roughing - 2 min against Tim Gleason|