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The Carolina Hurricanes’ season came to an end last night, following a Game 4 loss to the Florida Panthers.
It was a rough start for Carolina, surrendering a goal only 41 seconds into the game when Anthony Duclair buried a rebound that Frederik Andersen wasn’t able to locate. Then just after the Panthers’ goal, Jaccob Slavin was on the receiving end of a massive hit from Sam Bennett, and left the game. Midway through the frame, the Panthers capitalized on a power play as well, with Matthew Tkachuk beating Andersen in-close to make it a 2-0 game. Paul Stastny did bury a rebound later in the period to cut the lead to one, but the Hurricanes still trailed through 20 minutes.
Teuvo Teravainen was able to tie the game for Carolina early in the second period, but Ryan Lomberg ended up reinstating the lead midway through the period. The Hurricanes had their chances and ended up outshooting Florida by a huge 17-9 margin, but remained down 3-2 heading into the second intermission.
Carolina once again went on to outshoot the Panthers in the third period, this time by a 13-6 margin, though Florida did have some excellent chances throughout the frame that nearly put the game out of reach. But with only a little more than three minutes to go, Jesper Fast took a pass in the slot to slide a puck past Bobrovsky, finally tying the game late in the third period.
However, Jordan Staal took a tripping penalty with only a minute to go, opening the door for Florida. On the ensuing power play, as the clock ticked down, Sam Reinhart’s shot hit the crossbar, but Matthew Tkachuk got to the puck and took it to the net, beating Andersen to put the Panthers ahead with just seconds to go. Upon a review, the goal stood, and Florida took the 4-3 win to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
I don’t know what more you can say about the series that hasn’t been said after each game so far.
The Hurricanes were the better team through the back 40 minutes. They outshot Florida 30-15 in the last two periods, and throughout the series it was a 174-127 margin. Obviously, they deserved a better fate than a sweep.
While Sergei Bobrovsky may have looked slightly more human last night, he was still the story of the series. Sometimes it’s going to happen – the Panthers were able to capitalize on their chances and got big saves when they needed them.
The special teams battle was once again an issue as well, with the Hurricanes going 0-for-4 on the power play, while the Panthers scored two of their four goals on the man advantage.
It’s the third Eastern Conference Final in a row where Carolina made the top-four, just to be swept. However, I think there are a lot of reasons to be generally pretty content with the way things played out.
Carolina was without top forwards through the postseason in Andrei Svechnikov and Max Pacioretty, while Teuvo Teravainen missed time as well. Rarely did the Hurricanes fail to show up for a game, and battled through a lot of adversity to get to the spot they did, before outplaying the Panthers through much of the series.
This is a fairly young team that’s set up to contend for a long time. They’ll be doing it next year with top players (hopefully) available and have the cap space to improve this offseason.
The team will have decisions to make in terms of who to bring back, but Carolina arguably took another step this year at a time where they had a lot working against them.
I’ll have a season recap out in the coming days.
OTHER ARTICLES FROM MAY
Hurricanes set to face Devils in second round
Previewing the Hurricanes’ second round series against the Devils
Hurricanes shut down Devils for convincing Game 1 win
Hurricanes dominate Devils again for 6-1 win in Game 2
Hurricanes suffer blowout loss to Devils in Game 3
Hurricanes eliminate Devils, advance to Eastern Conference Final
Previewing the Eastern Conference Final: Hurricanes vs. Panthers
Hurricanes drop Game 1 of ECF to Panthers in quadruple overtime
Hurricanes face 2-0 series deficit after another overtime loss to Panthers
Hurricanes on verge of elimination after Game 3 shutout loss to Panthers