SUNRISE, Fla. — The Carolina Hurricanes are on the ropes after dropping three games in the Eastern Conference finals against Florida Panthers 1-0 on Monday.
An impressive 32 game performance from the Panthers goaltender SERGEY Bobrovsky — in the first shutout of his career — did most of the damage in the loss to Carolina, which put the Hurricanes in a 3-0 hole. However, the defeat did not come without controversy.
The Hurricanes trailed 1-0 at the end of the third quarter in front Sam Reinhart – who scored the only goal of the game in the second period – looked like a Carolina defender Shayne Gostisbehere on the face. This was in front of the Panthers defender Mark Steel put the puck into an empty Carolina net that would have given the Panthers a 2-0 lead with less than two minutes remaining.
Upon review, it was ruled that the whistle was blown before Staal entered the net, but no penalty was assessed on Reinhart during the Gostisbehere game. The play continued, and Carolina eventually recorded its third straight loss.
Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said after the game that he was not happy with the lack of calls in Carolina’s favor.
“It’s hard for me. I could go on all day,” he said. “We have it [called for] three knickknacks on a stick to the hand. … Especially when he stops playing [after Gostisbehere was hit]. I don’t understand that. You stopped because you saw a long stick. Why are you stopping this drama? I don’t know. No explanation, move on.”
That’s all the Hurricane can do. Brind’Amour lamented that Carolina didn’t change his strong play in this game, and all of his struggles that got Bobrovsky in the lineup. Through three games, the Hurricanes’ runners failed to produce a single strong goal, and Carolina won 6-3.
“How are you not upset?” Brind’Amour said. “Sometimes you lose and you’re upset because you’ve been beaten, but if you feel like we’re losing but we’re not really beating you, that’s when it’s frustrating.”
Florida has now won 10 of its last 11 games and can advance to its first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1996 with a win over Carolina in Game 4 on Wednesday.
The Panthers came away with Monday’s victory despite being shorthanded. Captain Alexander Barkov with 7:04 left to play in the first period after what appeared to be a bad check from the Hurricanes forward Jack Drury. He was ordered to return with a questionable injury to the lower body.
Florida coach Paul Maurice did not provide an update on Barkov after the game.
Losing Barkov would be difficult. The team’s top scorer had four goals and 12 points in 14 postseason tilts before Game 3. The All-Star is one of the Panthers’ best faceoff forwards. He had two goals and an assist in the first two games against Carolina.
Barkov is not there. Eetu Luostarinen he climbed to the middle of Florida’s top line. The Panthers had trouble generating much offense in the second and third quarters, taking just 17 shots — and seven through the final 40 minutes — on the Carolina netminder. Frederik Andersen and went 1-for-4 on their power play opportunities.
If Bobrovsky continues to hit Carolina the way he is, it doesn’t matter how aggressive the Panthers are. Bobrovsky has a .978 hitting percentage in the series so far, and it will take a team effort from Carolina in Game 4 on Wednesday to stay alive and take the matchup back home to the Canes.
“It’s been three games,” Brind’Amour said. “You can’t do much. We like the way we’re playing, obviously. It’s worth finding a way to put it in.”