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Gameday: Panthers vs. Hurricanes

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Waiting all day for Sunday night!

This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to this evening's match-up between the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, videos, photos and more as puck drop draws near.

In a back-to-back situation with a trip through customs in Canada, travel and an early 6 p.m. puck drop, the Hurricanes will not hold a morning skate today. Any updates we receive leading up to faceoff you will find right here, as always.

Last updated: 5:50 p.m.

5:50 p.m.

Mike Maniscalco presents tonight's Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.

Video: Blue Cross Blue Shield tools to victory

4:25 p.m.

Michael Leighton will get the start in net tonight for the Carolina Hurricanes, head coach Bill Peters said. This will mark Leighton's first start in the NHL since Jan. 27, 2013. His last game played in the NHL came earlier this calendar year on March 22. Leighton, who was recalled by the Hurricanes last week after Eddie Lack suffered a concussion, last started for the Hurricanes on March 16, 2010 in Nashville.

"It wasn't difficult at all," Peters said of the decision to start Leighton. "[Ward] has played a lot of hockey, and there's a lot of hockey upcoming. Travel last night. It's just the right thing to do. [Leighton] is a good goaltender and deserves an opportunity. We'll give him one here today."

No other lineup changes will be made, Peters said. Forward Brock McGinn remains out with an upper-body concern.

"Ginner's dinged. You know that and I know that. Now could he play? Yeah. Is he 100 percent? No," Peters said. "He's a real tough kid. He did a good job gutting it out and staying in the lineup. I wouldn't say he's a healthy scratch, but he could benefit from another day or two or three."

Here's more from the head coach.

On tonight's game: "We've played real well. We struggled to score, that's obvious. But the effort and the way we played has been very good. We need to do that here again today. If we do that with a little more finish and ability to dig in in the offensive zone, then we'll be fine."

On Eddie Lack's concussion and if Peters has received an update: "I haven't, no. Have you? I haven't seen him. I don't know. Last time I heard he called it a 'conconk.' … Those things, you know how they are, right? They'll tell me when he's cleared. I haven't spent a lot of time on it, but I know he still has symptoms. That's all I know."

On the challenge to create more offense: "We can't think we're doing enough because we're not, obviously. We've got to do more. I didn't love our game in Montreal from the offensive side of it. I didn't love the fact that when I watched our shots, there were 32 of them, and not a lot of them were, in my opinion, dangerous or had traffic. In Ottawa, I thought we had much better traffic at the net on a consistent basis from all four lines."

On if he believes in "puck luck": "Hard work, puck luck and skill. You need some skill at the end of the day. We're not relying on luck to get us through this. We're relying on a good, solid foundation. We have a foundation on our penalty kill, we have a foundation now defensively in our zone, we have a foundation through the neutral zone, now we have to get a better, more efficient way to score with the group that we have."

6:00 a.m.

In between two three-game road trips, the Carolina Hurricanes will make a transitory stop in Raleigh to host the Florida Panthers.

The Canes have suffered back-to-back regulation losses just twice this season, and they'll be looking to bounce back tonight after two consecutive 2-1 losses at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators.

On Saturday night, the Hurricanes scored first and then took a 1-1 deadlock to the third period. Kyle Turris netted the game-winning goal for the Senators in the closing minutes of the game.

"There's obviously things we can improve on. We still need to create more offense," Jordan Staal said after the game. "We're still going to have to connect on a few more goals if we want to consistently win."

"It gives us an opportunity in less than 24 hours to go back out there and continue to do what we've been doing," said Cam Ward, who made 22 saves. "We've been playing strong. Tonight was no different. We just weren't able to find the back of the net."

Creating more offense is something the Hurricanes know they have to do in order to be successful on a consistent basis. They've scored just four goals in their last three games, and head coach Bill Peters says three goals per game is the magic number in today's NHL.

"We've got to find a way to score more, not only at home but on the road. You've got to be able to generate offense. I thought we generated some chances, but we need a little bit more finish," Peters said. "We'll take these efforts and keep going. It will be fine in the end. What you've got to do is persevere and be honest about what's going on."

Forward Brock McGinn did not play in Saturday's game due to an upper-body injury. In his stead, Andrej Nestrasil saw his first game action after being a healthy scratch in the six matches prior.

"Nesty is a pro. He looked after himself when he wasn't playing. He did a good job handling the puck. He's a very smart player," Peters said. "I thought he made some good decisions with the puck along the wall in the high-traffic areas."

Opposite the Hurricanes will be a Florida Panthers club that also played on Saturday night. The Panthers edged the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 in a shootout, and they've won six of their last 10 games. Tonight will be the first of three meetings between the two Southeast Division rivals of yore.

CANESPR NOTES: Defenseman Noah Hanifin is expected to play in his 100th NHL game tonight. … Though the Hurricanes have not beaten the Panthers at home since Feb. 7, 2014, they own a 30-10-4 all-time mark against Florida since beginning play in Raleigh in the 1999-2000 season.




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