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Hurricanes left stunned by Panthers sweep: 'Almost a little confusing what happened'


The Carolina Hurricanes were left in a state of shock Wednesday as their season ended with a Game 4 loss to the Florida Panthers.

The Hurricanes lost 4-3 on Wednesday, losing a fourth straight game in the Eastern Conference Final by just one goal. 

"It [stinks]," Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho said, per "It's almost a little confusing what happened.

"I don't know."

The Hurricanes lost the opening game of the series in the dying seconds of the fourth overtime period and lost in overtime again in Game 2. Sergei Bobrovsky posted a 32-save shutout in a 1-0 Panthers victory in Game 3. The Hurricanes' rally in Game 4, tying the game with less than four minutes left, was ended by Matthew Tkachuk scoring his latest game-winner with just five seconds remaining.

"That's the unfortunate part of this is you're going to look back and everyone's going to say, 'You got swept,'" Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "That's not what happened. I watched the game. I'm there; we're in the game. We didn't lose four games. We got beat.

"We were right there, and this could've went the other way, and this could've been four games the other way."

Carolina also reached the Eastern Conference Final in Brind'Amour's first season behind the bench in 2019 before being swept by the Boston Bruins. The Hurricanes, who have made the playoffs in each of the past five years, have been unable to return to the Stanley Cup Final since their championship in 2006. 

"We were right there," Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal said. "It didn't feel like it was a 4-0 sweep series. That's kind of their game, though. They definitely keep you to the outside and keep you from getting those second chances.

"Then, they make you pay going down the other way quickly and have got guys that can score goals and make you pay at the wrong time."

Staal is among the pending the unrestricted free agents for the Hurricanes, a list that also includes goaltenders Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta.