The Carolina Hurricanes have been desperate for momentum recently, and they're hoping they've finally found some.
The Hurricanes look to build on their first back-to-back wins in more than a month as they visit the surging Florida Panthers on Thursday.
Carolina (18-14-3) beat Toronto 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday, scoring twice in the final 1:25 of regulation before Scott Walker got the game-winner with 32.6 seconds left in extra time. The win came three days after a 6-5 shootout win in Philadelphia that ended a three-game losing streak.
"To come back from two goals down with a minute and a half left - we've got to get momentum after that," said Cory Stillman, who scored his team-best 17th goal.
Carolina had gone 5-10-0 since its last back-to-back wins, road victories over Atlanta and Florida on Nov. 10 and 12, respectively. The Hurricanes are still in first place in the Southeast Division, but their lead has dwindled to five points over the second-place Panthers.
"If you look at the standings, it's getting tight, so teams who get on a winning streak can get some separation," forward Ray Whitney told the Hurricanes' official team Web site.
The Hurricanes have won 10 of their last 11 games against the Panthers (16-16-2), including three of four this season.
"We've had our success against them, but they've played fairly well, and especially recently, they've won a few games in a row," coach Peter Laviolette said. "I think with that they can gain confidence.
"They're always a good challenge for us. They always compete, and there seems to be a little bit of animosity between the two teams that brings out the best in each other."
However, Carolina will be without defenseman David Tanabe and forward Chad LaRose. Both players suffered concussions against the Maple Leafs and will be sidelined indefinitely.
Craig Adams will also miss the game to serve the first of a two-game suspension for a high-sticking penalty against the Maple Leafs.
Rod Brind'Amour, who missed Tuesday's game with the flu and didn't practice on Wednesday, hopes to return.
"We know how big it is," defenseman Glen Wesley said. "They're probably playing the best that they've played all season long, and we know how big of a game it is and the magnitude of it. We're going to have to be prepared down there."
The Panthers are coming off a 3-1-0 road trip capped by Tuesday's 3-2 victory at Montreal. Jozef Stumpel and Brett McLean scored first-period goals and Tomas Vokoun made 23 saves for Florida.
Stumpel scored for the first time in 16 games, completing a 2-on-1 with Olli Jokinen.
"He made a really nice play and I had a wide open net," Stumpel said.
Vokoun, meanwhile, has allowed two or fewer goals in 10 of his 11 starts, and has two shutouts in his last six.
The Panthers play four of their next five at home, where they are 8-7-1. However, they have dropped four of their last five on their home ice.
|Apr 04 '08||FLA 4 at CAR 3||R. Dvorak|
|Mar 20 '08||CAR 2 at FLA 1 - SO||S. Samsonov|
|Feb 16 '08||FLA 4 at CAR 5||R. Whitney|
|Dec 20 '07||CAR 4 at FLA 5||B. McLean|
|Nov 17 '07||FLA 1 at CAR 2||R. Brind'Amour|
|Nov 12 '07||CAR 4 at FLA 3||C. Stillman|
|Nov 03 '07||FLA 2 at CAR 4||T. Letowski|
|Oct 31 '07||CAR 2 at FLA 4||R. Zednik|