Preview: Panthers try to close out road trip on high note against Hurricanes
TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m.
RALEIGH, N.C. — Something good could be brewing for the Carolina Hurricanes even though it took time for it to materialize during a lengthy stretch of home games.
“The bounces have started going our way a little bit,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
Carolina takes on the visiting Florida Panthers on Friday night at PNC Arena.
The Hurricanes are 3-1-1 with one game to go in a six-game homestand. The Hurricanes will go for their first three-game winning streak since the opening week-plus of the season.
The Panthers didn’t enjoy quite the boost of momentum heading to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Florida gave up a season-high number of goals in Wednesday night’s 7-3 loss at Tampa Bay. The Panthers are 2-3 with one game remaining on a six-game road swing.
“We have to find a way,” Florida coach Bob Boughner said, shying away from excuses.
Panthers left winger Mike Hoffman stretched his points streak to 17 games, but that was merely a highlight without much juice from the team perspective.
“When we’re not on top of our game … you’ll have outcomes like that,” Hoffman said.
Meanwhile, by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Wednesday night, it was clearly a lift that might have an impact that extends beyond a single game for the Hurricanes.
“We wanted to make a statement that we could play with any team,” said left winger Micheal Ferland, who leads Carolina with 11 goals.
The Hurricanes outshot the Maple Leafs 29-11 in the first period, marking the most single-period shots on goal by Carolina in team history (since relocation to North Carolina more than 20 years ago). The Hurricanes’ 29 shots are also the most in a first period in the NHL since 1997-98.
That shot load eventually paid off.
“Everybody was on fire there,” right winger Andrei Svechnikov said. “… That’s why we won, because we shot everything on the net.”
Carolina’s special teams have been scrutinized so far this season. There are reasons for encouragement in that area with its first power-play goal in a three-game stretch in the latest outing. Plus, the penalty-killing was spotless for the second game in a row.
The Panthers liked some of their specials teams work in the Tampa Bay game. That might be something for them to build off.
“We made some adjustments and we were good after that,” Boughner, a former Carolina player, said of one of the bright spots.
Justin Williams scored his 100th career Hurricanes goal Wednesday, giving him goals in consecutive games. He became the ninth player in NHL history to score at least 100 goals and win the Stanley Cup with multiple franchises. Williams has 100 goals in 368 games with Carolina and recorded 103 goals in 427 games for the Los Angeles Kings.
The other good news for the Hurricanes was having center Victor Rask in the lineup for the first time this season Wednesday night. He had been out since a preseason off-ice finger injury.
“He didn’t play much, but the shifts he had were productive,” Brind’Amour said. “I think we’ll still probably ease him in a little bit. He’s probably right where he needs to be. There’s no real rush.”