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NHL Game Summary - Florida at Carolina



(Friday, December 23rd)

Final Score: Carolina 4, Florida 3

Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - Justin Williams and Rod Brind'Amour each netted third-period goals to lift the Carolina Hurricanes past the Florida Panthers, 4-3, at RBC Center.

Matt Cullen and Eric Staal also scored for the Hurricanes, who won their fifth game in a row. Staal also had an assist, while Erik Cole picked up his 18th helper of the year in the victory.

"I'm proud of the guys for the way they played these five games coming back from that road trip," said Hurricanes head coach Peter Laviolette. "They showed a lot of character, a lot of heart, a lot of determination."

Martin Gerber made 22 saves for Carolina, which improved to 14-4-0 at home this season.

Olli Jokinen contributed two goals and an assist for the Panthers, who lost for just the second time in their last six games. Gary Roberts added a goal while Luongo faced 39 shots in the loss.

"I thought we came out with good energy and good enthusiasm," said Panthers head coach Jacques Martin. "I thought we had a really good game going, and just had too much adversity we had to face."

The Hurricanes had 15 power plays in the contest, the most power-play opportunities the team has had since it moved to Carolina. However, the team capitalized only once.

"I'm sure we had at least a dozen quality power play chances to score that didn't go in tonight," Laviolette said. "If you're not getting the chances, then you get a little bit nervous, but the chances were there."

Carolina took the lead for good 9:38 into the third. Cole controlled the puck just as he came out of the penalty box and muscled his way into the offensive zone. He then sent a one-handed pass to the slot for Williams, who smacked a one-timer past Luongo for the lead.

The Hurricanes extended to a two-goal edge at 4-2 after Brind'Amour's power- play goal with 7:19 left in the third. With a 5-on-3 advantage, Staal carried into the zone and passed to Brind'Amour, who skated into the right circle and lifted a shot over Luongo's left shoulder for the tally.

The Panthers would get to within one after converting on a 5-on-3 power play. Jokinen picked up his second goal of the game after he wristed a shot over Gerber from high slot with 1:31 left to play.

Florida then went to a 5-on-4 advantage and went up two men after Luongo skated to the bench. Roberts had a chance to net the game-tying goal but couldn't put the puck into a wide-open net after taking a pass.

The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead with 5:36 left in the first period after a nice looking goal by Cullen.

The play began as Bret Hedican carried into the zone and backhanded a pass to slot from along the right boards. Cullen received the pass with his back to the goal and quickly backhanded a shot between his legs that got past Luongo's right side for the goal.

The Panthers responded 1:17 later after Jokinen took a pass behind the net, skated around to the right side and used three whacks to jam the disc under Gerber to tie the contest at 1-1.

Each team netted a goal in the second frame for a 2-2 tie after two.

First, Roberts deflected in a Jokinen pass in the slot just 43 seconds into the stanza to put the Panthers ahead 2-1. However, Staal's 25th goal of the season evened the game 4:39 into the second after his shot beat Luongo stick side.

Game Notes

Carolina wrapped up a five-game homestand at 5-0-0, its best five-game homestand in franchise history...The Hurricanes have defeated the Panthers all three times they have faced each other this season, the previous two games by shutout...Carolina's previous high for power-play chances was 13...Florida finished 1-for-7 on the power play...Williams now has recorded points in 16 of his last 18 games...Brind'Amour picked up his 11th power-play goal of the season and now has a six-game point streak...Jokinen has four goals and seven assists in his last six games.

12/23 22:57:06 ET

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