Carolina (0-3) at Florida (3-0)
When: Wednesday, May 24th 2023
Where: FLA Live Arena,
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: TNT
Opening Odds: Florida -114/5.5
The Florida Panthers are up 3-0 on the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference finals, but the series is much closer than that. Carolina dominated Monday’s Game 3, but couldn’t get a puck past Sergei Bobrovsky in the 1-0 setback. The Hurricanes are on the verge of being swept in a third consecutive trip to the conference final (2019 and 2009) when they take the ice in South Florida on Wednesday night.
Florida is on the verge of making their second-ever Stanley Cup Finals appearance (2006) after winning the first two games in overtime and the third by a single goal. The Hurricanes have put 135 shots on goal over the series but only scored three times. Florida, which earned the final wild-card playoff spot by a single point, have already taken out the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs en route to facing the Metropolitan Division champions.
Florida is now an impressive 11-4 this postseason and 8-1 on the road. The Panthers have now won eight of the last 10 meetings with the Hurricanes including the regular season. Despite being up 3-0, Florida is just a slight -120 favorite to close out the series. The total, which has gone Under in eight-straight Panther games, is set at 5.5 u30.
The Canes are certainly not getting dominated, coming out each game with a flurry of good scoring opportunities including a couple breakaways and partial breakaways. They just can’t solve Bobrovsky. The frustration was visible after the game with Jesperi Kotkaniemi smashing his stick while heading back to the dressing room. Carolina outshot Florida 32-17, which led to the frustration. Sebastian Aho and defensemen Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin combined had almost half of the team’s shots with 15.
The Panthers not only have Bobrovsky standing on his head, but the defense has blocked 23 shots on Monday. It was amazingly, Bobrovsky’s first career playoff shutout. The Panthers won the last two games on the power play and Game 2 was won by Sam Reinhart, beating Frederik Andersen. Captain Aleksander Barkov left the game in the first period after taking a hit against the boards. The lower-body injury makes him questionable for Game 4.
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I’ve been on Carolina the first three games and I’m going to stick with them. They have outplayed the Panthers and will eventually break through. The Panthers offense hasn’t been that potent and I expect another low-scoring affair.
Pick: Hurricanes +100