The Panthers will try to bounce back from a frustrating loss when they wrap up their home-and-home series with the defending Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes at the RBC Center on Tuesday.
The Panthers (13-18-7) outshot the Hurricanes 36-17 on Saturday, but lost 3-2 in overtime. Erik Cole scored the game-winner on the power play 1:59 into the extra session after Florida’s Jay Bouwmeester took a questionable tripping penalty.
“Seems anytime you touch a guy they fall down and you get a penalty,” Bouwmeester said. “They got a lot of good players, guys who know how to put the puck in the net.
“So, little lapses, they take advantage of and it’s something we have to get better at (avoiding).”
The defeat ended a season-high three-game winning streak for Florida, which is in last place in the Southeast Division, nine points behind second-place Carolina.
“It’s really difficult to understand when you dominate a team,” Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. “We have to do some teaching about different aspects of the game. It’s frustrating because we dominated, and we got one point instead of two.”
The Hurricanes had a season-low 15 shots in regulation, including two in the third period, but still managed to extend its winning streak to a season-high four games. Carolina has outscored its opponents 13-6 during the winning streak.
“They’re a team that doesn’t quit. That’s why they won the Stanley Cup,” Florida’s Chris Gratton said. “They fought right to the end. But, it’s an unfortunate call in overtime. It’s our job to go out and kill it but they did a good job of just working for their goal in overtime.
“It was a hard fought game for both teams and it could have gone either way.”
Despite their strong effort Saturday, the Panthers could have a tough time earning the home-and-home split. Carolina has won its last six home games against Florida and is 7-0-1 in its last eight at home in the series. The Panthers have not won in Raleigh since a 2-0 victory on Dec. 6, 2002.
However, Carolina (19-14-4) has struggled with consistency this season. Their current winning streak comes after a season-high five-game losing streak.
“We weren’t prepared to play the game, that’s for sure. We kind of regrouped but we still didn’t play a great game tonight,” said Carolina’s Ray Whitney, who had a goal and an assist Saturday “Johnny (Grahame) played a great game for us. They did catch us on a back-to-back so that maybe was a factor but we’re certainly happy with coming back (to win).”
Grahame, the Hurricanes’ backup goaltender, improved to 3-5-1 in his first appearance since Dec. 11. Meanwhile, Florida’s Ed Belfour had 14 saves in his fifth consecutive start—the longest run by a Panthers’ goaltender this season.