Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Hurricanes blank Panthers; G Luongo leaves game

The SportsXchange

SUNRISE, Fla. -- With the Florida Panthers long out of the playoff race and the Carolina Hurricanes an extreme long shot, a key injury might have been the most significant thing that happened at the BB&T Center on Thursday night.

Center Jiri Tlusty scored two goals and Anton Khudobin picked up his first shutout of the season to lead Carolina to a 3-0 win.

But it was Khudobin's opposite number -- Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo -- who became the story when he was pulled after the first period.

The Panthers did not give an injury update, but Luongo was apparently shaken up 7:12 into the first period when Hurricanes right winger Radek Dvorak ran over him after he was pushed from behind by Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson.

Dvorak, a former Panthers player, raised his left arm before colliding with Luongo, who stayed on the ice for several seconds before finishing the period.

The Hurricanes insisted that it was not a dirty play by Dvorak.

"Radek is not that type of player to do that on purpose," said Khudobin, who had 35 saves to improve his record to 16-12. "I don't like that, personally -- guys hitting you. But it's hockey. I had exactly that type of hit in Dallas.

"I hope (Luongo) is OK, and he is not going to have any (injury). Sometimes it happens, but I don't feel good about it."

Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said Dvorak, who had not played since March 18 because of injury, might have been overanxious.

Muller had no issues with the penalties -- Dvorak got a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct, and Gudbranson was sent off for two minutes for roughing.

"It's a tough call for the refs," Muller said. "It's a penalty -- I can't argue that. But Radek is not that type of personality to crash the net and run a goalie over.

"It's his first game -- he hasn't played in a while. I think he was just trying to contribute and make a good push to the net. I don't think he had perfect control of it with the ice here. ... I don't think he intentionally wanted to run Luongo there."

Injury controversy aside, the Hurricanes (73 points) have just nine games left and started the day nine points -- and several teams -- behind the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Carolina has alternated loss-win for the past six games, failing to make a positive move in the standings.

Florida, with just eight games left, has 62 points and has long been out of any serious playoff contention. The Panthers have lost eight of their past 11 games.

The Hurricanes swept the season series from the Panthers, winning all three games, including two in Carolina.

Carolina opened the scoring with 10:51 left in the first period. Center Eric Staal fired a pass that was slightly behind Tlusty, who gathered it and held on until a gap opened between right winger Krys Barch and Luongo, who was strangely out of position given the duration of the play.

With 17:30 left in the second period, Tlusty struck again, scoring his 14th goal of the season. This time, he beat backup goalie Dan Ellis. The assists went to center Andrei Loktionov and defenseman Justin Faulk.

Ellis said he was told midway through the first period that he might be going into the game.

"I had an idea something was going down with Louie (Luongo)," he said. "It's never a good situation because you know something might not be good with your partner. But that's the job, and you have to be ready when they call you."

The Hurricanes made it 3-0 when center Jeff Skinner scored his 28th goal of the season, which came with 14:14 left in the second period. Right winger Patrick Dwyer started the play with a shot on Ellis, who failed to control the rebound. Dwyer whacked at the puck and got it to Skinner for the goal.

Florida had its opportunities in the second period. Left winger Tomas Fleischmann shot a puck that trickled behind Khudobin before he recovered. Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov took a shot that dribbled to the right of Khudobin before it was swept away by the Carolina defense.

"(Khudobin) probably dropped a couple around the net," Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. "But you've got to be there when those things are hot."

NOTES: Panthers D Erik Gudbranson, who had been out since March 9 due to a knee injury, returned Thursday. Gudbranson, 22, a former first-round pick, is a restricted free agent after this season, but he does not appear to be going anywhere. Florida GM Dale Tallon said recently that he sees Gudbranson as a future captain. ... Still injured for the Panthers are D Tom Gilbert (sports hernia), LW Tomas Kopecky (concussion), D Alex Petrovic (upper body), C Aleksander Barkov (knee) and C Jonathan Huberdeau (lower body). ... Before the game, Florida sent D Ryan Whitney and RW Joey Crabb to San Antonio of the AHL. ... The Hurricanes signed rookie LW Phil Di Giuseppe to a three-year contract. He played college hockey at Michigan and was Carolina's second-round pick in 2012. ... Carolina had three healthy scratches: G Justin Peters, D Mike Komisarek and LW Drayson Bowman. ... The Hurricanes return home to face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. ... The Panthers conclude their three-game homestand on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens.

Instantly join a new league.

League type:
Free Yahoo League
League size:
10 players
Draft time:
Aug 29 9:00 am
View Comments (0)