Hurricanes, Panthers square off in Florida

( – Wins haven’t been easy to come by this season for either
the Carolina Hurricanes or Florida Panthers, but the former club is counting
on its recent dominance in this series to help them pick up a road win on

Carolina is just 6-11-3 on the season and 1-5-0 over its last six trips to the
ice. The Hurricanes, however, have won three straight and five of the past six
encounters against the Panthers overall and also have claimed the last two
meetings in the Sunshine State.

The ‘Canes are playing the fourth part of a five-game road trip, a swing that
began with a 6-4 win in Dallas before Carolina suffered consecutive regulation
losses at Los Angeles and Colorado. All told, the Hurricanes are 2-8-2 on the
road this season.

Carolina was competitive against both the Avalanche and Kings, but failed to
earn a point from either contest. L.A. recorded a 3-2 win in Thursday’s clash
and the Hurricanes lost a 4-3 decision against the Avs despite holding leads
of 2-0 and 3-1 in the opening period.

The Hurricanes allowed Colorado to score the final three goals on Saturday,
with Erik Johnson cutting the deficit to 3-2 in the second period before
Jarome Iginla and Zach Redmond put the Avs ahead with a goal apiece in the
final stanza.

Nathan Gerbe, Andrej Nestrasil and John-Michael Liles all scored for the
Hurricanes, while Cam Ward made 31 saves in a losing effort. Nestrasil was
playing in his first game for Carolina after being claimed off waivers from
Detroit on Thursday.

“We started this game the way we wanted to,” said Liles. “Give them credit for
battling back because I think we let our foot off the gas.”

Ward is 15-10-2 with a 2.91 goals against average in his career against
Florida and he is expected to start tonight.

The 7-6-6 Panthers have lost two straight and three of their last four tilts
and are coming off Monday’s loss to Minnesota in the opener of a three-game
homestand. The 4-1 setback dropped Florida to 3-4-1 as the host this season.

Shawn Thornton netted Florida’s lone goal against the Wild and Roberto Luongo
made 34 stops in defeat.

“They were all over,” Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad said. “We just couldn’t
find a way to get the offense going.”

Florida has lost two straight and three of its last four home games.

The Panthers will complete their stay at BB&T Center in Saturday’s test
against Ottawa. Carolina is set to cap its swing the same night in Pittsburgh.