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Gameday: Panthers vs. Hurricanes

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
No Star Wars spoilers here!


This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight’s game 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.

As usual, the Hurricanes will hold a 10:30 a.m. morning skate, but not as usual, it will be at Raleigh Center Ice. We’ll have updates from there. Until then, a projected lineup and a preview of tonight’s game can be found below.

Last updated: 11:45 a.m.



THE FORCE AWAKENS AT PNC ARENA
3:30 p.m.

Just announced: the Carolina Hurricanes will host Star Wars Night on Friday, Feb. 19. Ticket packages start as low as $25 and include an exclusive "Stormy Trooper" t-shirt. For more details or to order your Star Wars Night tickets, click here.




LINEUP NOTES AND PETERS QUOTES
11:45 a.m.

As expected, the lineup listed below is what the Hurricanes will utilize tonight versus Florida. Cam Ward is the confirmed starting goaltender in net, and head coach Bill Peters called the goaltending situation "day-to-day."

Here's more of what Peters had to say after the team's morning skate at Raleigh Center Ice.

On the recent play of the Panthers: "They've scored a lot of goals, and they've scored a lot of goals on not many shots. Their shot quality is very high. They play with a lot of place, and they're very organized. They're working hard away from the puck, so they pose a lot of problems. It will be an exciting challenge to see how hard we can work and play and how intelligent we can be with the puck."

On if he puts any stock into the first meeting between the two teams on Oct. 13: "No. Both teams, I think, have changed, and both teams are better than they were at that point in the season. We were watching tape on it yesterday and this morning, and there are a lot of guys who aren't in the game (tonight) in that video."

On Ward starting in net: "He's got very good career numbers against Florida, and he's been out a while, so it's time to get him back in. He'll play tonight, and we'll figure out on the plane what we're doing tomorrow."

On the recent offensive spark: "I think some of these young guys have helped that. You look at a guy like Di Giuseppe who's come in and gives us a little bit of pace. I think he's got five points in six games. He's worked hard, he's done a good job on the wall and he's given us more speed."

On tightening up defensively: "We want to continue to score, but in the end, you're not going to be able to score four goals every night. ... We need to tighten up a little bit and continue to generate our offense."

On the team's play on the road trip: "The understanding of what we have to do to be successful offensively is better. You have to do a lot of work away from the puck to get open. You've got to share the puck; it's not a league where you can skate with it a lot. You have to have puck support. ... Guys have found a way to complement lines. I think our lines are as good as they've been."




CANES PROJECTED LINEUP
6:00 a.m.

Based on Thursday’s team practice, the Hurricanes will remain consistent with their group of 18 skaters when they face Florida tonight.

Versteeg-E. Staal-Lindholm
Nordstrom-J. Staal-Nestrasil
Skinner-Rask-Di Giuseppe
Malone-McClement-Terry

PANTHERS vs. HURRICANES
Panthers vs. Hurricanes
PNC ARENA | 7 p.m.
TV: FOX SPORTS CAROLINAS | RADIO: 99.9 FM
ARTICLES
SKINNER, CANES OFFENSE HEAT UP
TWEETMAIL NO. 90: SANTA'S MAILBAG
VIDEOS
RAW: BILL PETERS, DEC. 17
RAW: JEFF SKINNER, DEC. 17
GAMEDAY LINKS
BUY TICKETS
50/50 RAFFLE
12 DAYS OF HOCKEY
IN-GAME TWITTER
FIRST GOAL CONTEST
Hainsey-Faulk
Liles-Pesce
Hanifin-Slavin

A starting goaltender has yet to be announced, but head coach Bill Peters said he expects both Cam Ward and Eddie Lack to play in this weekend’s back-to-back set.



CANES RETURN HOME TO HOST CATS
6:00 a.m.

Following a four-game road swing, the Carolina Hurricanes briefly return home to face the Florida Panthers, the first game in a back-to-back set that will then take the team to Pittsburgh.

The Hurricanes earned five of a possible eight points on their most recent road sojourn, defeating Anaheim and Arizona and taking Philadelphia to overtime. In the process, the team’s offense heated up; the Canes have scored 23 goals in their last five games, including a stretch of five goals in each of the four previous games before Tuesday’s contest in Philadelphia. In the same five game set, however, the Canes have also surrendered 19 goals.

“There were some encouraging things,” head coach Bill Peters assessed after practice Thursday. “Obviously we’ve got to tighten up defensively; we learned that on the trip. The power play continued to stay hot. I thought the penalty kill was good. … We’ve got to find a way to tighten up defensively as we continue to mount our offense.”

Leading the offensive charge is Jeff Skinner, who has two hat tricks in his last three games and nine goals in his last six games, this after starting the season with just five goals in his first 25 games.

“He’s tenacious on the puck, he’s playing hard, he’s going to the blue paint and he’s playing well defensively, which leads to some of his offense, for sure,” Peters said. “Earlier in the year we were talking about how close he was. Now, instead of hitting the post and going out, they’re going in. He’s got to ride that wave while he can, and hopefully it lasts a long time.”

While the Hurricanes were in Raleigh awaiting tonight’s opponent, the Panthers faced off with the Devils in New Jersey. Florida came away victorious, 5-1, their second such victory in a row. The team has won three of its last four games and sits on the precipice of a wild-card playoff spot.

Tonight’s match is the first of three remaining for the Hurricanes before the league pauses around Christmas. Peters wants to see his team carry the momentum they’re building into the holidays.

“[We want a] real mature approach to the final three games before break,” Peters said. “The older teams in the league usually do real well this time of year, the guys that have been through it a lot. Younger teams can struggle historically this time of year. Stay with it mentally, stay focused and take advantage of the schedule.”

CANESPR NOTES: The Canes own a 30-9-4 record against Florida at PNC Arena. … The Hurricanes have earned at least one point in 15 of their last 19 games against the Panthers. … Justin Faulk continues to lead all NHL players in power-play goals with 12.



Michael Smith
MICHAEL SMITH is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.

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