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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
Final
CHA 108
MIL 106
8:25pm Tonight
CAR
NOS
Final
KAN 2
SFG 3
Final
CHA 108
MIL 106
Final
IND 103
PHI 91
Final
TOR 109
ATL 102
Final
BOS 121
BRK 105
Final
MIA 107
WAS 95
Final
NYK 80
CHI 104
Final
MEM 105
MIN 101
Final
DEN 89
DET 79
Final
UTA 93
HOU 104
Final
SAC 77
GSW 95
Final
PHO 119
LAL 99
Final
POR 106
OKC 89
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
WAS
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
DET
 
8:00pm Tonight
CLE
NYK
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
UTA
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
OKC
 
7:30pm Tonight
LOU
FSU
7:30pm Tonight
GASO
TROY
Final
WAS 2
DET 4
Final
EDM 1
NAS 4
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
BOS
 
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
LOS
 
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
WIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
ARI
 
7:30pm Tonight
OTT
CHI
 
7:30pm Tonight
TAM
PHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
STL
ANA
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
SJS
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
NYI
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
MON
 
8:25pm Tonight
CAR
NOS