Recap: Panthers @ Hurricanes, 12/18/15

Final 1st 2nd 3rd Total
Panthers (17-12-4) 0 0 2 2
@ Hurricanes (12-15-5) 0 0 0 0

First Period

  • The Hurricanes possessed the puck for a good part of the beginning of the period. There was a close call early on when Luongo went down after making a pad save, and the rebound came to a Hurricanes forward who had the top half of the net wide open but ended up putting it off the post.
  • Grimaldi stood out the most in the period for the Panthers. On his first shift, he won a board battle behind the net in the defensive zone, went on the forecheck in the offensive zone, circled around the net, and stole the puck at the half-wall. He was overall pretty shifty and made a nice move in the offensive zone to get a couple of shots on goal. He also had a chance from the goal line and almost caught goaltender Cam Ward off the right post.
  • The Panthers got a power play in the period, but they had trouble sustaining any pressure. They had no shots on goal and seemed set on making passes, although the Hurricanes gave the Panthers almost no space to breathe along the perimeter. Over the past few games, including tonight, they seem to be relying less on Pirri at the right side and are diversifying their plays with the man advantage.
  • Just before the power play, the Panthers had their best chance of the period which was a Huberdeau wrist shot from the high slot after coming off the halfboards.
  • Roberto Luongo made a few nice saves including one without his stick after a perfect cross-ice saucer pass by a Carolina forward. He wasn’t too active which speaks to the Panthers defense not giving the Hurricanes many opportunities.

Second Period

  • The pace of play began to pick up and that was most noticeable at the beginning of the second period as both teams began to get some chances offensively. Erik Gudbranson had the puck stolen by Jeff Skinner in the corner and he proceeded to charge to the net and got a backhand shot off that went high and wide. Right after that, Rocco Grimaldi passed the puck to Quinton Howden who was alone in the slot, but he was stopped by Cam Ward.
  • Roberto Luongo was strong in the period as he made several glove saves including one on Ron Hainsey from the point and another on Andrej Nestrasil who unloaded a slap shot from the high slot. Later on in the period, he made a nice stop on a 3-on-2 which former Panther Kris Versteeg had a hand in.
  • The Panthers were called for a penalty for the first time in the game, but like the Hurricanes were to them, the penalty killing unit was really aggressive including Reilly Smith who pressured the defensemen at the point. The Panthers got an shorthanded opportunity when Aleksander Barkov took the puck to the net from the corner and passed to Jonathan Huberdeau who would’ve had a wide open net had the puck not bounced on him.
  • The final shift of the period saw the Panthers’ top line dominate possession and Huberdeau nearly scored on a spin-o-rama shot that then rebounded to Jagr in the slot as the horn sounded.

Third Period

  • The Panthers would get the first goal of the game a few minutes into the period when Jonathan Huberdeau spun away from a Carolina forward and sauced a backdoor pass to Willie Mitchell at the right face-off circle and he one-timed it past Ward.
  • Corban Knight was called for hooking and the Panthers went on the penalty kill for the second time in the game. The Hurricanes had more pressure than they did on their first power play and got a few shots on goal. Luongo lost his stick during the sequence, but luckily Willie Mitchell was able to clear the puck from the zone quickly after.
  • The Panthers got another power play opportunity after Barkov split two Carolina defenders and got hooked as he attempted to get a shot on net. The top line once again dominated in the offensive zone, especially Huberdeau who would not allow the puck to leave his stick, but they were unable to get any quality shots on net. Right after the man advantage ended, Luongo made a huge save with his mask on a redirection in front of the net.

  • The Hurricanes pulled their goalie with two minutes left in the 3rd and that was followed by the most action both teams saw the entire game. Carolina was buzzing in the offensive zone with the extra forward, but they were shut down by Barkov and Huberdeau who both worked incredibly hard to cut off passing lanes and clear the puck from the zone.
  • Reilly Smith made it 2-0 with an empty-netter following a neutral zone turnover by the Hurricanes to extend his goal streak to 4 games. The goal really epitomized the 3rd period for the Panthers as they controlled the neutral zone for the entire 20 minutes, especially near the middle of the period.

Wrap Up

The Panthers played another solid game, especially for a back-to-back series, and got their 3rd straight win. The puck was bouncing all night and offensive opportunities were hard to come by for both teams, but they stuck with it and were able to take advantage of a defensive zone miscue by the Hurricanes. They’ve allowed just 2 goals over their past 3 games and shots against have been held to a minimum as well. Roberto Luongo wasn’t outworked by any means thanks to the Panthers’ defense, but he came up big when they needed him and was rewarded with a shutout.

The Panthers will head home to face the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday at 4:00 PM. Stay tuned for a preview and recap of tomorrow’s game.

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