April 7, 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jeff Skinner (53) controls the puck in front of Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (7) during the second period at the BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Hurricanes Can't Land On Their Feet Against The Cats (Canes 1, Panthers 4)

Last night was not the ending the Carolina Hurricanes wanted for the 2011-12 season. Although there was nothing on the line but pride, the Canes were hoping to finish the season on a winning streak, and carry that positivity through preparations for next season. The Florida Panthers were a hungry team who were already headed to the playoffs, but were looking for a win and their first division title. The Cats got their wish with a 4-1 win over the Hurricanes.

Welcome to the NHL and the Canes Jeremy Welsh! Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Welcome to the NHL and the Canes Jeremy Welsh! Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Highly anticipated was the debut of the newest Carolina Hurricane Jeremy Welsh. Thrown right into the mix centering Jeff Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu, Welsh took his first NHL penalty for tripping less than two minutes into the first period. The Panthers would take advantage of a slow start by the Hurricanes, with two goals in the first seven minutes of the game. Marcel Goc put a puck past Brian Boucher’s undefended right side. Just a few minutes later, John Madden would capitalize on a very similar situation to light the lamp for the Cats.

The Canes gained some pep in their step in the second period, with the Skinner-Welsh-Ruutu line getting most of the scoring chances. Welsh took another penalty for interference in the middle of the period, and Stephen Weiss was able to find the net during the Power Play to put Florida up 3-0 over the Canes.

Did anyone else have terrible flashbacks of the Devils game from the previous Saturday at this point? I know I did.

The third period would bring the only Carolina goal (thanks Kris Versteeg for taking that Hi-sticking penalty). Joni Pitkanen was the only Cane who could put the puck past the Cats goalie Scott Clemmensen, with some help from Captain Eric Staal. Carolina pulled Boucher for the extra attacker in the last minute and a half, and Florida would seal the deal with an empty net goal from Mikael Samuelsson. The Panthers not only claimed the division title with the win, but will also receive home ice advantage when they take on the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the playoffs.

The NHL will be releasing the full playoff schedule today. And the Carolina Hurricanes will head home for the summer.

Just call me Miss Brightside while I point out a few positives:

-The Hurricanes out shot the Panthers all night, 1st 13-12, 2nd 11-6, 3rd 11-8.

-The Skinner-Welsh-Ruutu line recorded 8 shots during the game.

-Eric Staal ended his season with 70 points.

Usually these previews end with information on the next Canes game. Unfortunately that’s not the case this time Caniacs. While the Carolina Hurricanes will not be moving on to the playoffs, there is much to be optimistic about. How will Jeremy Welsh contribute to the team? Will the Canes see another signing from an NCAA Frozen Four team? What will the draft bring? Will we see a big UFA signing in July? The Hurricanes have come so far in just a few months under Coach Kirk Muller. We have the entire summer to imagine what this team is going to be with this leadership for a whole season.

Don’t despair, you can still get your Hurricanes fix this summer here at Cardiac Cane! Our writers will be keeping you fully informed and entertained this off season.

What’s been your favorite moment from this season? What are you looking forward to most for next season? Chat with us on Facebook at  CardiacCane or on Twitter:@CardiacCaneFS, @Esbee92, @peacelovepuck, @caniac176 and @CaniacCaz.

Tags: Brian Boucher Caniacs Carolina Hurricanes Eric Staal Florida Panthers Frozen Four Jeff Skinner Jeremy Welsh John Madden Joni Pitkanen Kirk Muller Kris Versteeg Marcel Goc Mikael Samuelsson NCAA Frozen Four Scott Clemmensen Stephen Weiss Tuomo Ruutu

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