The Florida Panthers put on a spirited performance in front of a near-sellout crowd of 17,828 in their final home game of the regular season, but it wasn’t enough in a heartbreaking 4-3 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Cats, however, did salvage a point and moved to five points behind eighth-place Montreal in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Following the game, which was part of Fan Appreciation Weekend, the Panthers players participated in the “Shirts Off Our Backs” auction, which had fans coming down on the ice to received tonight’s autographed, game worn jersey from their respective players.
Jozef Stumpel got the Panthers on the board early with an easy goal on the power play with Olli Jokinen picking up an assist extending his point streak to seven games. With the goal Stumpel set a career high with 22 and five minutes later scored the Panthers second goal of the game and his 23rd for the season to put the Cats on top 2-0.
The Panthers opened the second period with a power play opportunity, but Carolina killed it and scored just 35 seconds later to cut the lead to 2-1. The Panthers regained their two goal lead when Chris Gratton deflected a Juraj Kolnik shot past Cam Ward for his 13th goal of the year for a 3-1 lead.
The Hurricanes scored two goals in the third, and got the winner on a 5-on-3 power play in overtime. The Cats finish the regular season with three straight road games, starting Tuesday in Washington. The game will not be on TV, but can be heard on 560 WQAM. The next FSN Florida broadcast will be the Cats' season finale on Saturday, April 7 in Carolina at 7 p.m.