Though lacking nudity and an official sponsor, Friday was Streakers Night at BankAtlantic Center. Anybody bringing a streak to the ice would have it extended by Friday night's Panthers-Carolina game.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, all the happy streaks at the party belonged to Carolina.
So, on the Panthers' side, the 1-0 loss means: seven consecutive losses, the longest losing streak since a seven-gamer that sandwiched the Olympic break in February and March 2002; 120 consecutive scoreless minutes against Carolina and goalie Martin Gerber; and 22 consecutive NHL games without a goal for Niklas Hagman, who had the Panthers best scoring chances.
For Southeast Division-leading Carolina, it was the ninth straight win, extending the franchise record; 10 consecutive games with a point for Eric Staal, Friday's goal-scorer; and a second consecutive game with a penalty shot for Erik Cole.
After the game, during which right wing Anthony Stewart went down with a wrist injury, the Panthers recalled right wing Greg Jacina from Rochester. Jacina has two goals and an assist in eight games.
"If you keep losing tight games, your confidence level goes down. But, zero goals, it's tough to win anyway," Panthers captain Olli Jokinen said. "Special teams was the story again."
Carolina had seven power plays to the Panthers' two. Florida coach Jacques Martin opined that Carolina takes so few penalties, the third-fewest in the NHL, because the Hurricanes move their feet and the puck and don't tarry exiting the defensive zone.
The Panthers, on the other hand.
"Tonight, particularly in the second period, I thought we had opportunities to get the puck out of the zone and we didn't," Martin said. "That's when you draw the penalties, when you are playing in your own zone and tired."
That pretty much covers the sequence that led to Carolina's goal.
A strong shift forechecking by the Cory Stillman-Staal-Cole line produced the penalty that put Carolina on the power play. The Panthers simply couldn't clear the defensive zone. After the second of three failed opportunities, the only question was whether the Panthers give up a penalty or a goal.
It was the penalty - Joel Kwiatkowski, high-sticking - then the goal. Cole stepped from behind the right post and fed Staal in the left circle. With Luongo down to protect against anything low at the right post, Staal just had to hit a hanging- out-after-practice shot.
Of course, he did.
At the other end was Hagman, who seems to lose his scoring touch somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean each season.
In other leagues and international competitions, he's a steady, if not spectacular, scorer. In the NHL, he's the answer to Maxwell Smart, always missing by that much.
Hagman admitted some of the problem is mental.
"It could be in a game that I come so fast that I'm trying to rush it and trying to do things too fast," he said. "Maybe I need to just try to calm it down a little bit, not rush. On a breakaway, maybe shoot it a little bit earlier because I get too close to the goalie and I don't have room. So, just maybe hit his pads and put the rebound in."
Friday, while killing Kwiatkowski's first second-period penalty, Hagman picked off a lazy Rod Brind'Amour pass at the Carolina blue line and walked in alone on Gerber. Hagman went for a forehand high and tight, which Gerber gobbled up.
He had another gorgeous opportunity four minutes into the third when Gary Roberts pounced on one of the few rebounds the Panthers corralled, and threw a backhand feed to Hagman on the doorstep. Hagman, in tight again, couldn't beat Gerber.
Hagman wasn't helped by what was uniformly seen and played as bad ice. It certainly didn't help Cole on his penalty shot, a questionable call as replays appeared to show Mike Van Ryn's sweep check getting the puck before upending Cole.
Cole cruised in from just left of the middle of the ice. He made a daring move on the dicey ice, a couple of dekes then a backhand, which probably accounts for the backhand whizzing over the crossbar.
In other NHL action: New Jersey 4, Washington 3; Atlanta 5, Tampa Bay 2; Edmonton 3, Columbus 1; Detroit 3, Minnesota 1; Buffalo 5, Toronto 2; Los Angeles 4, Chicago 2.