Carolina Hurricanes (28-37-11) at Florida Panthers (35-27-15)
|Date & Time||Thursday April 2, 2015, 7:30 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Florida Panthers -164 / Carolina Hurricanes +148 --- Over/Under: 5
It looked like the Florida Panthers were going to inch one step closer toward a potential playoff berth, but instead their defeat makes that look all but impossible.
Florida had their chance against the team they were chasing, traveling to Boston to play a Bruins club with a four point lead for the final wild card berth. The Panthers overcame an early Boston goal, and even took a 2-1 lead with them into the third period. Everything was going great until midway through the third when Ryan Spooner cashed in his 8th goal of the season to even the score.
Florida really needed to find a way to win this game in overtime, so allowing the Bruins to tie it was frustrating enough, but what came next was even worse. With just over a minute remaining in regulation Milan Lucic beat Roberto Luongo with a long wrist shot that should have been handled. The goal led to a huge comeback victory for the Bruins and a season crushing 3-2 regulation defeat for the Panthers.
The loss puts the Panthers six points behind the Bruins with just five games remaining for each team. Florida will play the Bruins one more time but a victory in regulation in that one still puts them at four points back. This was a loss that essentially ended Florida’s season.
Brandon Pirri scored his 21st goal of the season for the Panthers on the power play, and Brad Boyes added his 13th goal of the year. Luongo made 26 saves on the night but allowed to big ones in the final frame.
Florida will look to keep clawing their way to the finish line when they host the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.
Carolina has been playing some much more competitive hockey lately but that hasn’t exactly been resulting in a lot of wins. The Hurricanes have lost six of their last eight games overall despite actually looking like a competent hockey club, but this young group still needs to learn how to win.
After back-to-back victories over the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils, the Hurricanes have come back down to earth with losses to Boston and Washington.
Tuesday night in Washington the Hurricanes found themselves in an early hole. Mike Green scored 2:46 into the game and Alex Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season to make it 2-0 Capitals heading into the first intermission.
Nathan Gerbe scored his ninth goal of the season early in the second period to get the Hurricanes on the board, and Eric Staal tied things momentarily with his 22nd of the year.
It would be short lived however because despite Carolina controlling play for most of the second period the Capitals would score two of their own late in the frame on their way to a 4-2 victory.
Florida is in a situation where they might not play as well now that their season is essentially over. Carolina has been playing meaningless games with a youthful lineup for a while now but they haven’t found results. The Panthers need their veterans to help them get through the end of the season.