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A MUCH-NEEDED WIN: Panthers Get Four in the Third, Drop Hurricanes in Standings with 4-1 Win in Raleigh ... Selleck Makes Debut, Loses Fight Late

PANTHERS 4, HURRICANES 1

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The previous time the Panthers visited the Hurricanes, the visitors locker room looked more like the waiting room at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Three players sat on folding chairs in various state of injury from goalie Jose Theodore to Dmitry Kulikov and Scottie Upshall. The dour looks on their faces reflected the final score, a romp by the home team.

Tuesday night, the last-place Panthers turned the tables on the division-leading Hurricanes in their building.

Playing as division rivals for the final time (at least for now), the Panthers put on a clinic in the third period to blow past host Carolina 4-1 at PNC Arena to snap a six-game winless streak.

"It's been a few weeks here since we got some reward,'' said coach Kevin Dineen, who served as the Hurricanes' captain in 1997 when the franchise moved south from Hartford.

"I wasn't disappointed with our tempo of our game the past few outings. The results just haven't been there. It was nice to get some on the power play, get the win, get the goaltending. It was a pretty complete effort. Honestly, there's a big sigh right now. We needed to take a breath and get two points.''

The Hurricanes' 32 points were by far the fewest of any divisional leader in the Eastern Conference. Carolina, which has lost four straight, was jumped in the standings by Winnipeg (34 points now) on Tuesday and dropped into a tie with New Jersey for seventh in the east.

The Panthers, which move to a more Canadian-centric division next season as the Hurricanes stay in the mid-Atlantic, won just nine of 40 games played here since the building opened in 1999.

Florida, 6-2 losers here on March 2, have won three of the past five games in Raleigh as the Panthers split the four-game series with Carolina this season. Florida continues its season-long five-game road trip Thursday in Manhattan against the Rangers.

"I couldn't let my teammates go out there without me,'' said Shawn Matthias, who was sick all day Tuesday but got well enough to play -- and score Florida's third goal. "I didn't care how bad I felt earlier, this feels pretty good right now.''

The Panthers played a strong game throughout and had plenty of chances against a Carolina team that lost a shootout in New York the night before. Florida was outshooting the Hurricanes 28-22 going into the third yet the score was tied at 0.

Florida changed that 7:39 into the third when Tomas Fleischmann took a Tomas Kopecky feed and beat Dan Ellis on the Panthers' 36th shot.

Later, Marcel Goc made it 2-0 as he redirected Filip Kuba's shot on a 5-on-3 power play chance. The Panthers hadn't scored a power play goal in the previous nine games. Not to be outdone, Matthias got his ninth at the tail end of the power play by jamming the puck home.

Carolina got a power play goal of its own (only its fifth on home ice all year) with 2:33 left, but Jacob Markstrom would let nothing else pass. Markstrom, who watched Scott Clemmensen make Florida's previous two starts, was terrific in stopping 33 shots.

Markstrom had surrendered the initial goal within the opening three shots in his past four starts. Tuesday, the Hurricanes didn't solve Markstrom until the outcome had all but been decided.

"Everyone feels good about this,'' said Markstrom, who celebrated Jerred Smithson's empty net goal with 1:03 left.

"The power play was timely and stepped up in the third. It could be frustrating when we're not winning and it was 0-0 in the third. But we kept doing what we had been doing. It was a great period. The puck finally bounced our way.''

NEWS, NOTES

The Panthers had a player make his NHL debut for the sixth time this season as enforcer Eric Selleck took over for George Parros.

Selleck, 25, got into a pair of fights his game Sunday with the AHL San Antonio Rampage -- knowing Parros was injured the night before and the Panthers were watching.

Tuesday, Selleck fought Kevin Westgarth late but the bout was over quick. Selleck had to be helped from the ice after taking a punch flush in the face. Dineen didn't have much of an injury update.

"He played really well, played a couple of really good periods for us,'' Dineen said. "He showed he can be very comfortable in this. Unfortunately, he took one in the button there at the end. We'll see where he's at. He's a tough kid. It was unfortunate but that's our sport.''

-- Matthias missed the morning skate with "flu-like symptoms" but was in the lineup. Quinton Howden was recalled from San Antonio but didn't play. Howden will likely stick around with Selleck questionable.

Comments

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Great effort last night, nice to see them finally get rewarded. Can't have too many of those thou, we need Seth Jones with that #1 overall pick!!!

Interesting, why do you feel we should pick a d-man instead of offense?
I am not saying you are wrong. I just feel that we have been offensively challenged for years and maybe acquiring scoring talent up front should be more important?

The average goals for this season in the NHL is 2.71, the Panthers are at 2.43, meanwhile the average goals against is oddly 2.71 as well, the panthers are at 3.63. The cats only have 3 wins when they give up OVER the league average of goals against. They have held teams to below the league average 8 times, while they have been above the league average 12 times.

I'd say we need help more at defense, also when you take into account the following: Jovo will most likely retire, Kulikov is coming off injury, again. Kuba, who knows. Our d-men are talented, but young. Jones can play 2 ways, which is hard to find at an elite level.

Too bad Upshall almost gave away the game with his dumb 4 minute penalty. They need to trade or buyout this waste of a roster spot. I posted something similar on NHL.com's recap and they removed it. Apparently the truth hurts. Markstrom needs to work on his hugging the post because he seems too often let goals in he should stop, he could have had a shutout if his pad hugged the post. Overall though a good game by all with the exception of Upshall.

I don't think it matters whether Panthers take a D man or forward in the draft, they need help in both positions. They should take the player that will help them win in the next decade, not the best player this year but the one that will be the best over the next several years. That is something Tallon needs to discuss with his staff, over the long run who helps the team most.

Good points.
I think anyone you pick in the top 4 this year should be a potential star. We could use another player like Huby though. Someone with a 50+ point potential that will get us out of tour seats. They are very hard to find. The last one we had was the Russian rocket and I think that was back in 1867:-)

I know Tallon has a plan and it should be exciting to see how all this plays out over the next few months.

I agree, we need help at both D and F, which makes have a Top 3 (probably Top 5 pick) a beautiful thing this year.

However, I think Jones is starting to seperate himself from McKinnon and Driuon. I know we need offense, but look at the prospects we have in our pipeline at forward,Bjugstad, Howden, Trocheck, Grimaldi, Corban Knight, Rau...not to mention the guys that are already here in Hubes and Shore.

D however, is not as deep. Robak is here, Petrovic is still a year or 2 away, and Matheson is 2 or 3 years away. Jones was unbelivable at the U20 this year, and I think that's when he started to pull away from the others. Our Goals Against is nearly a .50 worse than the 2nd team, which is why I think we need D more than O as crazy as it sounds.

I'll be happy with a Top 3 pick, but I think Jones will be more of an impact player quicker than McKinnon or Drioun, the guy's a beast at 18.

You guys are missing the most important position which is goalie.I still am very skeptical of Markstroms ability to be a starting NHL goalie.He wasnt even a good AHL goalie .I hope I am wrong because if I am right we are in trouble and we had better get another Huberdeau so we can cancel out the soft goals let in.I would not waste a high draft pick on a goalie because 80% of the time the picks are a bust.Second or 3 rounders are for goalies.Great team effort.I sure hope they dont lose Matthias by giving him a cheapskate contract.Weiss should also be paid a fair rate as he was one of the few loyal ones that wanted to stay for the blueprint.He has at leasr 3 good years left and is the heart and soul of this team.

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