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Panthers Wrap-Up: Hurricanes 5, Panthers 1

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 1 0 0 0 1
Hurricanes 3 1 1 0 5
FLA - N. Bjugstad (13)
CAR - R. Nash (8), A. Semin (14), B. Bellemore (2), J. Tlusty (9), PPG - A. Sekera (9)

RALEIGH —  ( - The Carolina Hurricanes jumped on the Florida Panthers for three first-period goals and goaltender Anton Khudobin stopped 34 shots in a 5-1 victory at PNC Arena on Friday.

Five players scored for the Hurricanes (26-21-9), who have won six of their past. Florida (22-29-7) heads into the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics having lost five of six.

"It's really disappointing to see where our expectations are. My expectations and everyone's expectations have to be on the same page. We have to raise them. We have to expect more from each other. That certainly wasn't desperate hockey."

- Panthers interim head coach Peter Horachek.
1. Miscues Leads To Deficit: The games seemed to be a pretty even as the teams had their chances but thanks to miscues, especially in the first, the Hurricanes jumped out to a big lead and didn't allow Florida to come back. In fact, the Canes turned three miscues into goals in the opening period as they led 3-1 after 20 minutes of play. Tuomo Ruutu set up Riley Nash off a turnover 9:17 into the game and then Alexander Semin made it a 2-0 game about a minute and a half later as he picked off a clearing pass, spun and beat Tim Thomas. Brett Bellemore gave the Canes a big two goal lead late in the first as it looked like a possible icing call was waved off and the Hurricanes ended up scoring with 1:39 remaining. The two goal lead would eventually be too much for the Panthers to handle.

2. Bjugstud: Center Nick Bjugstad continues his fantastic rookie season, making it a one goal game on a spinning shot with 4:30 left in the first period. The 6'6 center had some of the Panthers best chances on the night, including finding himself on a breakaway early in the third period only to be denied by Anton Khudobin. The former Minnesota Gopher led the Cats with five shots, netting his 13th of the season on 13:14 of ice time.

3. On A Sour Note: With three weeks of off time, the Panthers wanted to enter the Olympic break on a good note but playing in Carolina has always been tough for the team from South Florida. Friday night was no different as the Hurricanes earned the 5-1 victory after adding individual goals in the second and third period's from Jiri Tlusty and Andrej Sekera (PPG) respectively. Florida certainly had their chances as they outshot Carolina 35-32 but Khudobin was the difference in thwarting the Panthers attack throughout the 60 minutes.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@kwkouki: @FlaPanthers the hockey gods are displeased with us. We need a sacrifice!

@nicogargi: Tonight it's just frustration @FlaPanthers #NHL

@Jpz02: Fellas come on. Put the biscuit in the basket @FlaPanthers

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Kathleen Boggs: Nick Bjugstad, trying to carry the team on his back.

Jason Cheseborough: Two straight nights of garbage. Guess the Olympic break couldn't come at a better time.

Gabriel Nagy: We need a natural goal scorer!!!

2. Both Tim Thomas and Scott Clemmensen saw action for the Cats with Thomas stopping 10 shots in 24:36 of time and Clemmensen turning aside 17 shots in his 35:24 TOI.

Recently it's been the Panthers offense scoring in bunches, especially in 20 minute increments as after Friday's game they had scored three goals in five individual periods over the last 13 games. Friday night it was the Hurricanes using a three-goal period to jump on the Panthers thanks to a big first period.

4. Recording an assist on Nick Bjugstad's goal, forward Scottie Upshall has recorded four points (1-3-4) in his last five games including points in each of the last two games.

8. Sitting out the last three games, defenseman Dylan Olsen had an impact against Carolina, picking up his seventh assist of the season on Bjugstad's goal. The blueliner played an extremely physical game, posting a game-high eight hits on the night.

13. Getting the Panthers on the board in the first period, Bjugstad recorded his 13th of the season. That total has him tied for second on the team (Sean Bergenheim) trailing only Brad Boyes (15).

Anton Khudobin
Was tested consistently throughout but came up with the saves time and time again in stopping nine, 15 and 10 shots in the periods.

35 Shots, 34 Saves, .971 SV%
Florida will have almost three weeks off thanks to the Olympic break. The Panthers next game after seeing who takes home the gold in Sochi comes Feb. 27 as they host former Southeast Division rivals Washington Capitals. The Capitals are battling it out in the Metropolitan and are just points away from a playoff spot as they sit fifth in the division with 61 points (26-23-9). Captain and Russian sniper Alex Ovechkin leads the team and the league with 40 goals and has 59 points on the season in 54 games while fellow forward Nicklas Backstrom has 54 points in 58 games. Braden Holtby has gotten most of the work between the pipes, posting a 16-13-2 record with a 2.97 GAA and .910 save percentage.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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