Carolina at Florida

Hurricanes nail Florida again; champs keep bid alive


SUNRISE, Fla. -- Ray Whitney found a way to keep Carolina's playoff hopes alive while eliminating Florida from the postseason.

Whitney's power-play goal 1:30 into overtime lifted the Hurricanes over the Panthers 4-3 on Sunday.

Florida blew a two-goal lead in the third period and lost for the sixth time in seven games to the Hurricanes. It was the second time Carolina beat Florida on an overtime game-winner by Whitney.

Carolina, which is close to becoming only the third defending Stanley Cup champion to miss the playoffs the following year, pulled within two points of eighth-place Montreal. The 1970 Montreal Canadiens and the 1996 New Jersey Devils were the other two teams to not qualify for the playoffs the season after winning it all.

"It was a gut-check kind of game, and we responded to it. We got behind, but the important thing is the end result," Whitney said. "It turned out to be a good day for us. We were up to the challenge this time."

The Hurricanes visit Tampa Bay on Tuesday and close with home games against Atlanta and Florida.

The Panthers got two first-period goals from Jozef Stumpel, who set a career high with 23 goals on the season, and led 2-0 after the first period.

But they couldn't hold off Carolina late as Chad LaRose tied the game at 3-3 at the 16:35 mark of the third period. That score followed a short-handed goal by Rod Brind'Amour four minutes earlier.

Down 2-0, Carolina got on the scoreboard 2:35 into the second period on a slap shot by Dave Tanabe from above the right circle that went inside the far post past goalie Ed Belfour.

Florida restored the two-goal lead when Chris Gratton tipped in Juraj Kolnik's slap shot from the left point 11:31 into the second period. Jay Bouwmeester got the second assist, the 100th of his career.

But Carolina's special teams keyed its rally, first on Brind'Amour's short-handed goal and then with the help of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Belfour after Bryan Allen's hooking penalty, creating the two-man advantage in overtime.

"We've got to get five or six guys to dive every time you touch them," Panthers captain Olli Jokinen said in reference to Carolina's Eric Staal hitting the ice on Allen's penalty.

"He embellished it as much as he could," said Allen. "It's embarrassing the way they play the game. They're looking for the easy way out, taking dives and looking for the cheesy call."

For a moment, it looked like overtime might not even happen as LaRose's goal was reviewed by the league to make sure his stick wasn't above the crossbar. But after some discussion, the goal stood.

"I never had a doubt (about the goal) until (the refs) started to take a look at it and then I got a little nervous, but the guys on the bench were telling me it was a goal all the way," LaRose said. "It was nice to get one in that situation with so much on the line."

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Rod Brind'Amour (center) slaps in a short-handed goal in the third to get the 'Canes back in the game.  (AP)
Rod Brind'Amour (center) slaps in a short-handed goal in the third to get the 'Canes back in the game. (AP)
Carolina  (39-32-8) «01214
Florida (34-30-15)21003
Three Stars
R. Whitney

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
J. Stumpel

Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
C. LaRose

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0

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Scoring Summary
02:10Power Play - Jozef Stumpel (22), Backhand Shot - Assists: Olli Jokinen, Mike Van Ryn
07:53Jozef Stumpel (23), Wrist Shot - Assists: Nathan Horton, Olli Jokinen
02:35David Tanabe (3), Slap Shot - Assists: Eric Staal, Ray Whitney
11:31Chris Gratton (13), Slap Shot - Assists: Juraj Kolnik, Jay Bouwmeester
12:33Short - Rod Brind'Amour (24), Wrist Shot - Assists: Justin Williams, Mike Commodore
16:35Chad LaRose (6), Tip-In - Assists: Cory Stillman, Frantisek Kaberle
01:30Power Play - Ray Whitney (31), Wrist Shot - Assists: Rod Brind'Amour, Cory Stillman
Penalty Summary
00:28Ward: Delaying Game - 2 min.
12:03Allen: Interference - 2 min.
14:44Semenov: Interference - 2 min.
16:13Van Ryn: Hooking - 2 min.
20:00Kaberle: Hooking - 2 min.
03:39Allen: Hooking - 2 min.
09:26Wallin: Interference - 2 min.
12:05Gratton: Roughing - 2 min.
12:05Gratton: Roughing - 2 min.
12:05Williams: Roughing - 2 min.
07:46Whitney: Unsportsmanlike Conduct - 2 min.
11:46Kaberle: Holding - 2 min.
14:34Van Ryn: Holding - 2 min.
01:06Allen: Hooking - 2 min.
01:06Belfour: Unsportsmanlike Conduct - 2 min.
Cam Ward 61:29283
Ed Belfour 61:30334
Game Information
Attendance - 17878
Referees - Paul Devorski, Rob Martell
Linesmen - Derek Amell, Pierre Champoux
Other Games
Det 4 Final
Colu 1
Edm 1 Final
Chi 2
Bos 1 Final
NJ 3
LA 2 Final
SJ 6
Tor 2 Final