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
"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
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
"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
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).
SEASON SERIES: 2-2-1.
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
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 15-16-5-4 on the road; Panthers - 16-15-6-3