PANTHERS 4, HURRICANES 3 (OT)
RALEIGH, N.C. -- If the NHL ever considered realigning its teams, the Panthers would have no problem seeing the Carolina Hurricanes find themselves another division. And if the Panthers could just stop visiting RBC Center all together, well, that would be just fine with them too.
It's not that the Panthers don't enjoy the trip, they just don't like playing on Carolina ice.
On Monday night, the Panthers almost added another chapter to their horror story of playing in Raleigh. Florida built a two-goal lead in the third period, only to watch the host Hurricanes chop away at it by scoring twice within a four-minute span.
Florida survived the onslaught, however, backup goalie Scott Clemmensen standing strong and helping the Panthers get to overtime. With a point in their pockets, the Panthers came at the Hurricanes and picked up a rare win here, Bryan Allen's long shot beating Cam Ward and lifting the Panthers to a 4-3 win.
The Panthers had lost 19 of 21 games in Raleigh coming into the game.
“We needed to get the two points, especially being up in the third,'' said Cory Stillman, the Carolina Cup winner who scored Florida's third goal of the night just over five minutes into the third. “Bryan scored a big goal. It's a big two points. We're obviously trying to move up in the standings.''
Clemmensen, filling in for Tomas Vokoun as the Panthers have a crazy schedule this week, never fell apart despite giving up the two goals in the third. Despite being down two, Carolina smelled the blood in the water and went on the attack. Less than a minute after Stillman's shot beat Ward, Zach Boychuk scored to cut the deficit to one.
The Hurricanes – and their fans – most definitely knew they had history on their side in this one. The Panthers have long folded up in the third period in this building. Only on Monday, a night in which the Panthers were playing for the second time in as many days, Florida didn't completely surrender.
“You could see we hit the wall in the third period,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “They got some momentum with a goal and cranked it up. Clemmensen made saves to keep us alive. It seemed like everything was against us, the calls, the building, the momentum. But we found a way to win. That's the big thing.''
Carolina, which had won three straight coming in and lead the Panthers in the Southeast Division standings, cut to a 1-0 lead in the opening period. The Panthers tied it up just before the first intermission with defenseman Dennis Wideman landing a long shot not long after Radek Dvorak had been stopped on a nice scoring chance in front of the net.
The Panthers made it 2-1 in the second period, Chris Higgins getting his second in as many games as he scored off a feed from Dmitry Kulikov.
Through the opening two periods, Clemmensen made 20 saves; he faced 16 shots in the third period alone as Florida was out-shot by 10 in the final frame. “He gave us a shot of energy,'' DeBoer said. “He gave us just what we needed.''
Carolina came hard at the Panthers in the third, yet DeBoer said he could hear “chirping” on his bench, his veteran players letting the younger ones know that they still had a shot. Most teams would take three points in a back-to-back situation. Florida, by getting through in overtime, got all four available points after blanking the Rangers in Sunrise on Sunday afternoon.
“We were still in a good spot,'' DeBoer said. “We would have taken 3-3 in the third in a back-to-back situation in this building with 10 minutes left. We regrouped in their end, got the pressure off. That was critical.''
Allen, who beat San Jose in overtime last year, got his second of this season by whipping a shot “with my eyes closed'' just 1:16 into the extra session. It was the only shot Florida took in overtime.
Clemmensen ended with 34 saves.
“You like scoring those,'' Allen said. “You have to give them credit, they were down and didn't give up. They changed momentum and really came hard. Give Clemmensen credit; he made big saves and key saves. He kept us in there.''
Steven Reinprecht remained part of the Panthers as the team did not assign him to their AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., on Monday.
Reinprecht, who cleared waivers on Saturday, is said to be looking at finishing the season in Europe instead of playing in the minor leagues.
Darcy Hordichuk was a healthy scratch for a third straight game.
-- With the Panthers playing five games in seven days this week, DeBoer is giving the team Tuesday off. They will reconvene Wednesday for the pregame skate before taking on Atlanta at BankAtlantic Center.
-- Chris Higgins quickly left the ice after colliding with Tim Gleason along the boards during the third period. It appeared Higgins had injured his shoulder in the hit, but he needed stitches after being cut by Gleason's stick. Both players were charged with a four-minute penalty for high-sticking.
“I don't know,'' DeBoer said. “I was a little confused about things [Monday].''
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Florida Panthers Get Rare Win in Raleigh, Beat Hurricanes 4-3 in OT
PANTHERS 4, HURRICANES 3 (OT)