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Carolina Hurricanes vs. Florida Panthers @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (28-34-13-6) at Florida Panthers (28-35-14-4).

TIME: Sunday, 3 p.m. EDT.

This isn't the way the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers hoped their respective seasons would end.

A pair of non-playoff teams will close out the schedule when the Hurricanes and Panthers meet at the Office Depot Center.

Carolina will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season after reaching the Stanley Cup finals in 2001-02. This is the fourth straight season that Florida failed to qualify for the playoffs.

Both teams underwent coaching changes this season.

Peter Laviolette replaced Paul Maurice behind the Hurricanes' bench on Dec. 15. Mike Keenan began this season as Florida's coach, but was replaced by general manager Rick Dudley on Nov. 9. John Torchetti was named the Panthers' interim coach on Jan. 9.

Florida has gone 10-11-3-1 under Torchetti after compiling an 18-24-11-3 mark under Keenan and Dudley.

Dudley was asked if Torchetti would be back as the team's head coach next season.

"I haven't had any lengthy talks with (owner) Alan (Cohen) about it, but when a team likes, respects and responds to a coach, then I don't feel there is a necessity to make a change, barring some unforeseen circumstance," said Dudley.

The Panthers have struggled down the stretch, winning just one of their last eight games (1-6-0-1).

Steve Shields allowed three third-period goals in a rare start Thursday in Florida's 4-3 loss at Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay.

Florida captain Olli Jokinen has three goals and five points in his last three games.

"It's a young team, it's a learning process," Jokinen said. "But if it's a learning process, you've got to start learning sooner or later."

The Hurricanes had a chance to play spoiler against the Islanders on Friday, but surrendered four straight goals in the second period as New York clinched a playoff berth with a 6-4 victory.

"We just didn't execute," said Laviolette, who coached the Islanders into the postseason each of the previous two seasons before being fired last offseason. "We didn't keep them contained, we got beat on the walls, we turned pucks over. Basically we got what we deserved."

The league's worst power play continued to hurt the Hurricanes, who are 0-for-30 with the man advantage since Sean Hill scored against Pittsburgh on March 19.

STANDINGS (through April 2): Hurricanes - 75 points, 3rd place, 31 PB, Southeast Division. Panthers - 74 points, 4th place, 32 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Hurricanes - Josef Vasicek, 19 goals; Justin Williams, 32 assists; Vasicek and Williams, 43 points; Jesse Boulerice, 125 PIM. Panthers - Jokinen, 26 goals, 29 assists and 55 points; Darcy Hordichuk, 158 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through April 2): Hurricanes - Power play: 10.5 percent (40 for 381), 30th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.9 percent (290 for 354), 24th. Panthers - Power play: 16.4 percent (50 for 305), 12th. Penalty killing: 86.5 percent (320 for 370), 2nd.

GOALTENDERS: Hurricanes - Kevin Weekes (23-30-10, 6 SO, 2.34 GAA); Arturs Irbe (5-2-1, 1.97). Panthers - Roberto Luongo (25-33-13, 7, 2.38); Steve Shields (3-6-1, 3.44).


LAST MEETING: March 29; Panthers, 3-1. At Sunrise, Fla., Kristian Huselius and Matt Cullen scored power-play goals, and the Panthers killed off all six penalties.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 15-16-5-4 on the road; Panthers - 16-15-6-3 at home.

Associated Press
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