The Achilles Heel of the Carolina Hurricanes cost the team two points in a heartbreaking shootout loss to the Florida Panthers Saturday night in Raleigh. Though the Canes led throughout most of the game, the Panthers tied it up late and pushed the match to an overtime shootout. This was the second straight shootout for both teams, and unfortunately the Canes second straight shootout loss.
Justin Faulk continued to shine and scored the only goal in the first period on a Canes Power Play, with an assist by Eric Staal, which extends his point streak to eight games. Also in the first period, Patrick Dwyer sustained a lower body injury and did not return to the game. More information will be available on Dwyer in the upcoming days. The first period was dominated by the Hurricanes as they outshot the Panthers 19-9.
Jussi Jokinen put the Canes ahead by 2 in the second period off an assist by Jeff Skinner. Jokinen has four points in the last six games, and Skinner has eight in 16 games since returning from a concussion.
The third period would take a turn for the Panthers as Tomas Fleischmann finally got Florida on the board. Some pregame trade action on the Panthers part brought Wojtek Wolski into the mix just mere hours before the game from the New York Rangers. The Panthers dealt D-man Mike Vernace and a third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Perhaps Wolski felt he had something to prove to his new team and tied the game late in the third.
With less than two minutes left in the game, neither team was able to score in regulation. Moving into overtime, both teams again struggled to put the puck in the net. At 2:51 in overtime, Staal and Erik Gudbranson took coincidental roughing penalties that stemmed from Staal defending himself after being two-handed on the wrist. It was to be three-on-three hockey for most of the remaining overtime period, and neither team would capitalize.
The Shootout. Most Canes fans and probably, the players, are ridiculously fed up with the shootout. Old Reliable for the Canes in the shootout Jussi Jokinen had the first opportunity, but the shot went high. Mikael Samuelsson was up first for the Panthers and put one past Justin Peters. Skinner was next for the Canes and bested Jose Theodore for the only goal the Canes would get in the shootout. Wolski couldn’t capitalize for the Panthers, and neither could Jiri Tlusty for the Canes, and it was Stephen Weiss who scored the game-deciding goal. Carolina is now 0-6 in shootouts this season. Obviously missing from the shootout was Captain Eric Staal, who has drawn much heat (along with Coach Kirk Muller for consistently relying on him in the SO) for his under performance when it comes to shootouts. Is the game lost in the shootout? In my opinion no. But this shootout mess is a discussion for another time.
Justin Peters once again provided a strong backbone for the Canes and stopped 42 shots for the night. Peters performance was once again impressive to not only fans but his teammates. The Panthers reclaimed the top spot in the Southeast Division and have won all three meetings with the Canes this season. The Canes will meet the Panthers again in Florida on March 11.
The Hurricanes must now put what was a very frustrating loss behind them as they meet a hot Nashville Predators team on Tuesday, February 28 in Raleigh. One advantage to the Canes is the two days rest they’ll have on the Preds, who will be playing back-to-back after facing the L.A. Kings Monday.
Tune in Tuesday night at 7:00pm on Fox Sports South or 99.9 FM for the broadcast.