NHL Game Preview - Panthers v Hurricanes

 
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4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET20:00 BRT, April 8, 2021
PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina  Attendance: 4,987

Hurricanes look to complete two-game sweep of Panthers

Florida Panthers at Carolina Hurricanes

  1. Since 2016-17, Carolina is 13-2-2 against Florida, including four straight wins. The Hurricanes have scored 16 power-play goals in those 17 games, including at least one in each of the last six meetings.
  2. Carolina outscored Florida, 4-0, in the third period on Tuesday to notch its first win when trailing through two periods this season. It was also the Panthers' first regulation loss of the season after leading through two periods.
  3. Florida's 5-2 loss at Carolina on Tuesday snapped its six-game winning streak. The Panthers are 2-4-0 in their last six road games after starting the season 10-2-1 on the road.
  4. The Hurricanes scored two power-play goals on Tuesday, their ninth game with multiple PPG this season, tied with Edmonton for the most in the NHL. Carolina has a +13 power-play goal differential, tied with Boston for second in the NHL behind Colorado (+14).
  5. Aleksander Barkov has seven goals and seven assists over his last eight games, the first Panthers player to have at least seven of each in an eight-game span since Olli Jokinen in March 2007.
  6. With three assists on Tuesday, Sebastian Aho now has 299 points in his career. If he records a point on Thursday, the 23-year-old Aho would be the second-youngest player to reach 300 points with the franchise, behind only Ron Francis (21 years, 355 days).

There's not much separation between the top teams in the Central Division, and sorting that out isn't easy this week.

The Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers have joined the Tampa Bay Lightning in contending for the lead in the division. The Hurricanes and Panthers meet for the second time in three nights when they match up Thursday in Raleigh, N.C.

"It comes down to who's going to be better in that game," Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. "It comes down to who's going to execute better in those situations."

The Hurricanes had the edge Tuesday night, scoring four third-period goals in a 5-2 victory. Carolina trailed 2-1 entering the final period and came away with a notable result.

That's because the Hurricanes had been 0-4-0 when trailing after the second period this season. Florida held an 18-0-1 record when leading after two periods.

"We've got a lot of individuals who are very competitive and hate to lose," Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal said.

Staal racked up the go-ahead goal and later added one of two empty-net tallies for the Hurricanes.

Florida had gone eight consecutive games without yielding more than three goals. The Panthers had their six-game winning streak snapped, a string that was the longest active run in the NHL.

"This game is a tough team to play against," Barkov said. "It's not about them. It's about us and how we play."

Thursday's game is the last meeting in Raleigh. The Hurricanes and Panthers meet two more times later this month in South Florida.

"It's a fun race. It's huge, too, where you're seeded," Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman said. "They've been tight and kind of like a little playoff feel to it. Two good hockey teams. That's why it's tight."

The Panthers expect more of the same when colliding with Carolina.

"They're all tight games," Barkov said. "We have to be a little better in certain areas."

Barkov has scored three goals in three games since missing time with an injury.

The Hurricanes have used goalie Petr Mrazek in the last two games for his first NHL outings in more than two months following surgery on his right thumb.

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said Carolina is a three-goalie team as it sorts out a potential goaltender rotation. If that's the case, either James Reimer or Alex Nedeljkovic is bound to be back in the net soon.

Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck had a goal and an assist Tuesday night, continuing to produce against the team that traded him to Carolina in February 2020. This season, he has five goals in five games vs. the Panthers.

"It's just luck of the draw, I guess," Trocheck said of the success in those meetings. "I've got some greasy ones against them this year."

Panthers coach Joel Quenneville held defenseman Keith Yandle out of the third period Tuesday night. He called that a coach's decision. Yandle has played in 906 consecutive games for the longest active ironman stretch in the NHL -- and the third-longest all-time.

Carolina played without winger Brock McGinn, who exited Sunday's game against the Dallas Stars with an injury.

--Field Level Media

Updated April 7, 2021

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