The Florida Panthers played the final regular season game of their record-breaking campaign and dominated the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 at BB&T Center on Saturday night. The Panthers will host the New York Islanders or New York Rangers in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Florida(47-26-9) started off strong and scored just 1:39 into the first period. Rocco Grimaldi entered the Canes zone and flicked a pass to his left. Jiri Hudler then sent a cross-ice pass into the slot where Teddy Purcell put the puck by Eddie Lack.
The Panthers extended their margin to 2-0 at 3:58. Nick Bjugstad placed a pass in the neutral zone to Jussi Jokinen. He skated in on a two-on-one and snapped a shot from the right circle for his 18th goal of the season.
Carolina(35-31-16) surrendered another goal and got down by three goals at 7:40. Hudler was in the left corner and moved the puck to Aaron Ekblad at the top right circle. He fired a high slapshot for his 15th tally of the year.
The Cats continued to roll as they got their fourth consecutive goal at 4:56 of the second period. Aleksander Barkov was in the right corner and fed the puck to Jaromir Jagr at the right of the crease. He then put a drop pass to Jonathan Hubedeau and he scored his 20th goal of the season.
The Hurricanes found the net at 10:47 to break the shutout 4-1. Jordan Staal shot the puck on net from the high right circle which was saved by Roberto Luongo. Elias Lindholm scooted through the crease area and put in the rebound.
The Canes pulled their goalie for an extra attacker for the final five minutes of the contest. Reilly Smith capped it with an empty-net goal with 5.5 seconds left for his 25th goal and a Panthers 5-2 lead.