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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, March 27th (All times Eastern)

Carolina Hurricanes (31-32-9) at Florida Panthers (27-38-8), 7:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The struggling Carolina Hurricanes will try to avoid another slow start on Thursday night as they visit the Florida Panthers.

The Hurricanes appear headed for a fifth straight season of missing the playoffs thanks to 11 losses in their last 16 games. They sit nine points back of a four-team tie for the two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference with just 10 games to play.

Carolina saw goaltender Cam Ward pulled after just 6:12 of game action on Tuesday in a 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders. Ward yielded three goals on nine shots faced, while Anton Khudobin made 21 saves in relief.

Khudobin actually took the loss as Jeff Skinner, Andrei Loktionov, Alexander Semin and Nathan Gerbe all scored in defeat. Jordan Staal added two assists.

"It was a tough start," said Skinner. "A couple of weird bounces and it just seemed to snowball."

Khudobin seems likely to draw the start tonight and he has won both of his previous meetings with the Panthers while yielding three goals on 74 shots faced.

The Hurricanes are visiting the Panthers for the first time this season after picking up a pair of victories in Carolina earlier in the campaign. They have won four of the last five encounters overall.

Carolina snapped a four-game series road losing streak last season, but has still lost eight of its last 11 in Sunrise.

The Panthers are ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern standings and have not won two in a row since Jan. 20-21. They were look to do so tonight after snapping a three-game slide with Tuesday's 3-2 shootout win over the Ottawa Senators.

Roberto Luongo made 37 saves and another two stops in the shootout, capping the tiebreaker with a glove save on Milan Michalek. That game after both Vincent Trocheck and Brandon Pirri netted goals in the shootout for the Panthers.

Sean Bergenheim and Trocheck scored second-period goals for Florida, which is 3-6-1 in its past 10 games.

"We planned to come out hard in the first period," said Trocheck of an opening scoreless frame in which the Panthers were outshot 20-10. "They came out twice as hard."

Florida won the opener of a three-game homestand and saw Luongo improve to 4-4-1 with a 2.53 goals against average and .923 save percentage since being acquired from the Vancouver Canucks. He is 10-13-1 versus the Hurricanes lifetime with a 2.59 GAA.

The Panthers may have defenseman Eric Gudbranson in the lineup tonight. He has not played since suffering a knee injury on March 9.

03/27 10:47:41 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
2nd
NCCU 29
DELST 33
 
2nd
UNC 41
SYR 42
 
7:30pm Tonight
BRK 0
POR 0
7:30pm Tonight
NYK 0
SAC 0
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
MIN
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
ORL
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
PHI
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
BOS
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
DEN
Half
AMER 29
ARMY 35
 
2nd
OU 33
CLST 31
 
2nd
NCCU 29
DELST 33
 
2nd
PBY 28
HIGH 31
 
2nd
UNC 41
SYR 42
 
Half
DET 27
WRST 33
 
1st
NCAT 4
COPST 0
 
1st
SCST 12
HAMP 17
 
1st
COOK 16
HOW 14
 
1st
NWST 26
NICST 16
 
1st
NO 0
CARK 0
 
1st
CAMP 0
GWEBB 0
 
8:00pm Tonight
FAM
MDES
 
1st
INCWORD 0
MCNST 0
 
1st
SAV 0
NORST 0
 
8:00pm Tonight
ABCHRIST
SHSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
LAM
STEPH
 
1st
SELA 0
TAMCC 0
 
1st
VALPO 10
UWMIL 2
 
8:30pm Tonight
ALAAM
ALCOR
 
8:30pm Tonight
ALAST
SOUTH
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARKPB
PVU
 
9:00pm Tonight
ISU
TEX
9:00pm Tonight
MVSU
TXSOU