After at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday, the Panthers were looking to to start of a 6-game road trip with a win, but the Hurricanes scored took advantage of unforced errors to earn the victory.
The Panthers came out strong in the 1st period as they faced Michael Leighton who was making his first NHL start since January 27th, 2013 and first NHL appearance since March 22nd. Jonathan Marchessault’s team-leading 10th goal opened the scoring on the Panthers’ first power play of the game to snap the Hurricanes’ streak of 25 straight penalties killed off and convert for only the 2nd time in the past 24 opportunities.
Aaron Ekblad struck with his 6th goal of the season just over 4 minutes later when his shot from the top of the right circle bounced off the chest of the 35-year old Leighton and behind him into the net. The Hurricanes scored 3 straight goals in a span of about 3 minutes during the middle frame to take the lead.
Viktor Stalberg received a feed at the top of the blue paint and put the puck 5-hole on James Reimer to get within 1. The second Carolina goal came courtesy of Jeff Skinner who took the puck up the ice and scored on a breakaway after Jakub Kindl made a poorly-timed pinch in the offensive zone. Derek Ryan got his first of the season after Reimer poked a rebound right at him before it was deposited over his shoulder.
Despite several late chances and a power play in the 3rd period, the Panthers were unable to rally back from the 1-goal deficit after Vincent Trocheck was called for a tripping penalty with under 2 minutes remaining.
Carolina was able to take advantage of the few blatant defensive errors made by the Panthers in a short span of time, and that’s essentially what decided the game. Reimer, who made 24 saves on 27 shots, was decent, but wasn’t able to come up big for the Panthers on any of the goals and most of his saves came on shots from the perimeter of the defensive zone.
All things aside, it’s a tough loss for the Panthers who had a chance to start putting some wins together against a team coming off a loss the night before and a goaltender that is relatively inexperienced at the NHL level. Once again, they were unable to put together a 60 minute effort and a small lapse of focus cost them.
The Panthers will head to Chicago to face the Blackhawks on Tuesday at 8:30pm. The Blackhawks have lost 3 of their last 4 games, including Saturday by a score of 2-1 in overtime against the Kings. Patrick Kane’s 8th goal of the season was the long marker for the Blackhawks in front of Scott Darling who stopped 27 of 29 shots.