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03/19/2013 10:58 PM EDT
3rd-period surge leads Panthers past 'Canes 4-1
FLORIDA 4, CAROLINA 1
By JOEDY McCREARY
AP Sports Writer
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The slumping Florida Panthers knew the
Carolina Hurricanes were running out of steam - and defensemen.
They came up with a late barrage of goals to end their long
Tomas Fleischmann, Marcel Goc and Shawn Matthias scored 6:12
apart in the third period to lead Florida past Carolina 4-1 on
"If you know ... they are tired, you've got to keep on going
after them, make sure they make a mistake," said Fleischmann,
the beneficiary of a late miscue. "They did, and that's why we
won the game."
Jacob Markstrom stopped 33 shots while flirting with his first
career shutout, and Filip Kuba had two assists for the
last-place Panthers, who scored the first three goals and held
on to snap their six-game slide.
Markstrom was 2:33 from the shutout when Jordan Staal scored on
the power play for Carolina.
Dan Ellis stopped 40 shots for the Hurricanes, who entered atop
the Southeast Division but lost their fourth straight and
dropped a shootout to the Rangers in New York the night before.
"Our effort and our compete was there. I thought we looked a
little worn-down but we were staying with our structure and our
system," captain Eric Staal said. "It was a 0-0 game going into
the third period, and some mental mistakes and it ends up in the
back of your net."
An untimely turnover by Bobby Sanguinetti - one of three
Carolina defensemen who were injured in the first two periods -
wound up turning into the game's first goal.
His misplay near Ellis sent the puck to Tomas Kopecky, who set
up Fleischmann's wrister to make it 1-0 at 7:39.
"We could tell they were getting tired, minute by minute, and
our forechecking, that's what got us the first goal,"
Fleischmann said. "And then we just, I would say, played better
than them and better physically."
Goc scored on a tip-in on a 5-on-3 power play at 12:47, and
Matthias - who was ill with flu-like symptoms, slept all day and
was a candidate to be scratched - added a goal with the man
advantage at 13:51.
"I don't want to miss any games," Matthias said. "I want to play
and get us out of this."
Jerred Smithson added an empty-netter with 52.4 seconds left.
That was plenty of offense for the Panthers behind Markstrom,
the second-year goalie who entered 1-5-1 this season with a
goals-against average of 3.29.
He certainly found a groove against a Carolina offense that,
until the final minutes, had sputtered. Since blowing a 2-0 lead
in a 3-2 loss to division rival Washington on March 14, the
Hurricanes have managed just three goals in their next three
Their power-play unit, the second-worst in the NHL, struggled
against the Panthers' league-worst penalty-kill, missing their
first three chances before Jordan Staal's late goal - Carolina's
first with the man advantage since March 9.
Their frustration boiled over when Alexander Semin skated to the
bench after his shift ended and whacked his stick on the boards.
"I thought actually at times tonight, it actually looked better
than it has in a month," coach Kirk Muller said. "There's just
no results. You've just got to let them sort through it and get
one goal, and I think their confidence level will grow on it and
then it'll just come natural again."
Semin's frustration came during a critical 4-minute power play
after Scottie Upshaw received a double-minor for high-sticking a
bloodied Tim Gleason - one of those three injured Hurricanes
Justin Faulk suffered an apparent right leg injury during a
collision behind the boards with Jack Skille moments before
Gleason was hurt and didn't return, while Sanguinetti appeared
to take a skate to his face with 7:03 left in the first but was
back for the second. Gleason returned for the final 2 minutes of
Muller said Faulk would be evaluated Wednesday.
"When we lost Faulk, more than anything, going to five
(defensemen), back-to-back games, really hurt our D going into
that going into the third," Muller said. "It kind of starts to
put some holes in the game going into the third period."
Both teams certainly had plenty of chances early: Semin clicked
a pass off the shaft of a Florida player's stick on its way
across the crease, Kevin Westgarth rang the post, and Drayson
Bowman had a breakaway yet couldn't get a shot off on Markstrom
after the puck rolled off his stick.
The Panthers - who won for just the seventh time since beating
Carolina in the opener - couldn't get anything past Ellis for
two periods, either, despite peppering him with a handful shots
in roughly a minute of the first.
Notes: The teams split the season series 2-2. ... Carolina's
record against the Panthers at PNC Arena is 28-7-4. ...
Westgarth dropped LW Eric Selleck during a brief fight with 2:58
left. Selleck received an instigator misconduct. ... Before the
game, the Panthers recalled C Quinton Howden from San Antonio of
the AHL, then scratched him.
Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at (at)JoedyAP.
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