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Thursday, February 12th (All times eastern)

Florida Panthers (26-19-8) at Carolina Hurricanes (27-22-5), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of teams battling for playoff positions will meet tonight in Raleigh, as the Carolina Hurricanes invite the Florida Panthers for a Southeast Division battle at RBC Center.

The Panthers are currently holding onto the eighth and final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference with 60 points, while Carolina is just one point back in a tie with Pittsburgh. Florida and the Hurricanes are second and third, respectively, in the division.

Carolina has won two straight, four of five and six of its last eight games. The 'Canes picked up their latest victory by slamming the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday to end a three-game road trip.

Tuomo Ruutu finished with two goals and an assist to lead Carolina to a 7-2 thrashing of the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.

Sergei Samsonov added a goal and three assists for Carolina, while Chad LaRose, Patrick Eaves, Matt Cullen and Eric Staal all scored a goal apiece for the Hurricanes.

Cam Ward stopped 30-of-32 shots and earned the win with the help of Carolina's highest-scoring game of the season.

Tonight's test marks the first of two straight at home for the Hurricanes, who are 14-10-1 as the host club this year. Carolina, which has won two straight and five of its last six home games, will also welcome Columbus on Saturday.

The Panthers have won three of their last four games and are coming off Tuesday's dramatic win over visiting Toronto. One year to the day after a horrific injury, Richard Zednik scored the equalizer and overtime winner to lift Florida to the 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Maple Leafs.

Cory Stillman led a Florida rush into the Toronto end, and sent a cross-ice pass from the low left circle to the right side of the slot. Zednik was in perfect position for the one-timer, and sent a rocket past Vesa Toskala just 1:08 into the extra session to give the Panthers the win.

On February 10, 2008 in a game against Buffalo, Zednik suffered a cut to an artery in his neck by the skate of then-teammate Olli Jokinen, who was upended during play. Zednik scrambled to the bench while bleeding profusely. He was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery, and missed the rest of the season.

Now fully recovered from the accident, Zednik tallied his ninth and 10th goals of the season, as the Panthers overcame a three-goal deficit in the third period.

Nathan Horton, Ville Peltonen and Brett McLean also scored for Florida, while Tomas Vokoun made 35 saves in the win.

The Panthers are 12-13-3 as the visiting team this year and have lost two of their last three road games.

Carolina and the Panthers have split four meetings this year with each club winning a pair on their home ice. The Hurricanes have taken seven of the last 11 matchups overall and have also won 15 out of the previous 16 meetings in Raleigh.

02/12 11:55:39 ET


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