Panthers Return Home, Shut out Hurricanes…During a Hurricane

Panthers Hurricanes

Sunrise, FL – The Florida Panthers, following a long-fought west coast trip, and in the midst of a category one storm, stood their ground against the Carolina Hurricanes, shutting them out by a score of 3-0.

Back From the West Coast Swing

Florida returns to the FLA Live Arena following a busy trip to the west coast that spanned a whole week and featured mixed results. After a 3-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes, the Panthers played three straight games in California, including a 4-3 shootout win versus the San Jose Sharks, a tough 5-4 loss against the Los Angeles Kings, and a dominating 5-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks.

This improved their record to 7-5-1, just in time to welcome a red-hot Carolina Hurricanes team with an 8-3-1 record that had won four straight games before falling to the Toronto Maple Leafs last Sunday.

Double Trouble by the Hurricanes

In the midst of Hurricane Nicole, a category one system that formed less than a week ago, the Panthers played this game regardless of landfall by Nicole around the same time that the game began in Broward County.

While the major concern of the storm was large amounts of rain and some general flooding, it caused Carolina’s flight to South Florida to be delayed. In addition, there were noticeably fewer fans in attendance than normal.

The Panthers Sing in the Rain

Florida did what they do best – take shots on goal. With eight shots in the first nine minutes of the game, the Panthers made their firepower known early on Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanti.

The first Florida player to break through, however, was center Nick Cousins who capitalized on a long-distance shot by defenceman Brandon Montour and center Eetu Luostarinen, who were both credited with an assist.

It’s the first goal for the Panthers by Cousins, who Florida signed in the offseason after spending two years playing for the Nashville Predators.

That was the only breakthrough for either team in the first period. Despite numerous shots on goal, neither team was called for a penalty and the Panthers finished the first period with a 1-0 lead.

A Stormy Stalemate in the Second

The second period didn’t feature any goals scored by either team, despite the Hurricanes giving Florida more than enough opportunities.

Carolina committed three penalties in the second, being called for high sticking, tripping, and hooking. The Panthers recorded twelve more shots on goal but Raanti held strong at the net and didn’t allow anything for 20 full minutes, so the game remained 1-0 in favor of Florida.

Florida Brought Their Umbrella

With both defenses giving it their all in this game, it was only a matter of time before one team would break. Carolina took over the shots on goal department in the middle of the third period, proving themselves to be the aggressor as a result of two penalties from Florida.

Despite the Panthers leading the NHL in shots on goal per game, Carolina is right behind them in third place. Both teams collected over 30 shots with ten minutes to go in the game.

Florida’s inability to capitalize on power play opportunities haunted them all game, but they finally found success after a tripping penalty on Carolina center Jack Drury eight minutes in. Almost two minutes later, Aleksander Barkov sank a goal in following a right-side pass by Carter Verhaeghe, giving the Panthers an insurance run late into the game.

The rest of the game was a matter of defense for Florida as Carolina ramped up their offense, but couldn’t get past Panthers goalie Spencer Knight, who wound up recording 40 saves and collected his third career shutout.

While Carolina took out their goalie with two minutes to go, all that created was another goal for Florida as Sam Bennett broke away with the puck and earned an empty-net goal as the clock ran down, securing a 3-0 shutout win for the Panthers.

A Defensive Downpour (& What’s Next)

Despite putting up no goals, Carolina earned more shots than Florida, with 40 compared to 36. However, the Hurricanes committed more penalties which opened up opportunities for Florida.

No Florida player scored more than a single goal on the night, with Cousins, Barkov, and Bennett splitting duties in the scoring department. Montour earned three saves on the night, leading all Panthers in the category.

With the win, Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice recorded his 783rd win, passing Al Arbour for the seventh most wins by a single head coach in NHL history. This is Maurice’s first year with the Panthers and had previously coached the Hartford Whalers (now known as the Carolina Hurricanes) and Winnipeg Jets.

The Panthers now have a record of 8-5-1 and are in third place in the NHL Atlantic Division. They’re trailing both the Detroit Red Wings (7-3-3) and Boston Bruins. (11-2)

Florida will play four straight games at home, starting on Saturday, November 12th at 4 PM against the Edmonton Oilers. They’ll then play the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, November 15th, the Dallas Stars on Thursday, November 17th, and finish off the homestand against the Calgary Flames on Saturday, November 19th.

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