Panthers, Hurricanes look to recover from losses

RALEIGH, N.C. — Two teams that were making headway at times recently meet Saturday night at PNC Arena after losses a night earlier.

So the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes will be looking to avoid a losing streak.

The Panthers, who had won three of their four previous games, dropped 2-1 a home decision to the San Jose Sharks on Friday night.

The Hurricanes lost on the road, falling 5-1 to the New York Rangers. Carolina has had wavering recent results, now sitting 1-3-1 in its last five games.

The pressure could be mounting on the Hurricanes.

“Look at the standings and figure out where it is,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said. “It’s straightforward.”

The Hurricanes are playing in their fourth set of back-to-back games this season, holding a 1-1-1 record on the back end the first three times.

The Hurricanes have the fewest penalty minutes (5:02 per game before Friday) in the NHL, but they were called for seven infractions totaling 14 minutes in the game in New York.

“Yeah, there were lots, lots of penalties for a team that usually doesn’t take many,” Peters said. “It was hard to get guys in the game. A lot of guys that we count on to provide offense for us and get us going were sitting on the bench for extended periods of time. Lots of time on the PK for some reason tonight.”

The Panthers might not arrive in a much better frame of mind even though they’ve appeared to turn the corner at times.

“We’re starting to figure it out,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “We’re getting contributions throughout the lineup.”

Yet the Florida team can’t take anything for granted as it has 22 team points — three fewer than the Hurricanes.

For Boughner, the challenge is making sure his team doesn’t fluctuate when it shows it can be on a good roll.

“Never assume,” Boughner said. “We’re hammering on the foundation and the systems every day. It becomes instinct. After a while, there’s no thinking to be had. It becomes instinct on the ice.”

This is Florida’s second trip to Carolina in less than a month. The Hurricanes won 3-1 last month with goalie Scott Darling in the net.

Darling was taking responsibility after Friday night’s loss.

“We don’t have a big margin of error right now,” Darling said. “We just get ready for the next game. You can’t dwell on this. You’ll learn from it, and just move forward and try and fix the little things that didn’t work and get it done next game.”

Peters isn’t about to blame the goaltending.

“I think our goaltending has been consistent,” Peters said. “There has been some issues on the ice with us giving up too many. There have been some cases of lack of communication. But that starts in the offensive zone.”

This is Carolina’s final home game before a six-game road trip. The Hurricanes won’t be back home until Dec. 16 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

For the Panthers, this is the only road assignment during a five-game stretch with the next three games at home.