The Florida Panthers’ successful road trip hit a snag in their most recent contest.
The surging Panthers, though, look to bounce back while trying to conclude the five-game stretch on a positive note on Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Florida (14-13-3) seemed on its way to a fourth straight victory on its trip, but couldn’t hold an early two-goal lead and lost 5-3 at Vancouver on Sunday. The Panthers allowed four goals in the second period while losing for only the second time in eight games.
“It was just one of those nights,” said Florida goaltender Craig Anderson, who made 25 saves. “We lost the momentum. It was a tough night.”
The result snapped Florida’s five-game winning streak on the road, where it is 8-9-1 and had played four games in seven days.
“Fatigue was definitely not a factor,” defenseman Bryan McCabe said. “Mentally, we were just not sharp and it cost us.”
Rookie Michael Frolik had a goal with an assist for the Panthers, who allowed as many goals on Sunday as in their previous three games. Frolik has five points in his last four games and nine in his last eight.
Tomas Vokoun is expected to start in goal in this contest. Though he is 6-10-0 with a 2.96 goals-against average this season, Vokoun is 7-6-2 with a tie and a 2.90 GAA in his career against Carolina.
He’s also 1-1-0 with a 3.52 GAA versus the Hurricanes this season.
Florida could get two of its top players back from injuries for this contest.
David Booth, who has a team-leading 12 goals, has been out since Nov. 30 with a shoulder injury. He has two goals and an assist in two games versus the Hurricanes this season.
Nathan Horton, tied for second on the team with six goals, hasn’t played since Nov. 26 due to a heel injury.
Florida won 3-2 at home over Carolina on Nov. 24 in the teams’ most recent meeting after the Hurricanes posted a 6-4 win in Raleigh on Oct. 10. The Hurricanes have won 14 of their last 15 at home versus the Panthers.
Carolina (14-12-5) enters this contest after a 3-2 win over Montreal on Tuesday. Eric Staal scored two power-play goals as the Hurricanes converted three of their season-high 11 chances with the man advantage.
“We scored three goals on the power play and we won the hockey game,” said associate coach Ron Francis. “That’s what matters.”
Staal has five goals and two assists in the last four games for Carolina, which is 2-1-3 since Paul Maurice replaced the fired Peter Laviolette as coach. The Hurricanes haven’t won two in a row since recording three straight victories from Nov. 16-21.
“We need to start stringing together wins,” defenseman Joe Corvo told the Hurricanes’ official Web site. “We need four, five or six wins in a row now if we want to make any headway.”
Cam Ward made 22 saves versus Montreal to improve to 9-7-3 with a 2.60 GAA. He is 6-2-0 with a 3.01 GAA in 10 career games versus Florida, including a 29-save performance against the Panthers in October.