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Panthers catch fire in third period to defeat Hurricanes 4-1

The SportsXchange

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Florida Panthers already know too much about frustration, so a little more wasn't about to derail them this time.

Stuck in a scoreless tie a few minutes into the third period, the Panthers finally started converting in a 4-1 victory against the Carolina Panthers at PNC Arena to break a six-game winless streak.

"It could be frustrating because we haven't been winning a lot of games," goalie Jacob Markstrom said. "(Play like that) and come into the third period in a tie game."

The four third-period goals supported Markstrom's fourth career win.

Tomas Fleischmann, Marcel Goc, Shawn Matthias and Jerred Smithson scored for the Panthers, who registered a season-high 44 shots on goal.

The Hurricanes have a season-worst four-game losing streak. Jordan Staal's power-play goal with 2:33 to play prevented a shutout.

"They outworked us," Carolina goalie Dan Ellis said. "Look at their lineup. They don't have any superstars (because) they're all injured."

Markstrom, playing in his 16th career game, made 33 saves and at one point appeared headed for his first career shutout.

"That would be a bonus," he said. "It's just important to win."

The Panthers capitalized on a turnover by Hurricanes defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti, breaking the scoreless game with 12:21 remaining. Tomas Kopecky collected the puck when Sanguinetti lost the handle, flipping a pass to Fleischmann in front of the net.

Goc scored on a 5-on-3 power play with 7:13 left. Matthias' rebound from the crease came before the back-end of the power play expired.

"To score three quick ones, it feels good to finally win," Matthias said.

Smithson's goal was an empty-netter with 52 seconds to play.

"We worked for 60 minutes and it really paid off," Markstrom said.

The Panthers won in PNC Arena for only the seventh time in regulation in 39 appearances against Carolina.

Ellis, who was in the net for the second night in a row for Carolina, had stopped the first 35 shots on goal by the Panthers. He finished with 40 saves.

Ellis' biggest save might have come with less than six minutes to go in the second period. Goc was loose for a short-handed breakaway during Carolina's four-minute power play, but Ellis stood firm to keep the game scoreless.

Despite the extended advantage, the Hurricanes were limited to five shots in the second period.

Florida, the lowest-scoring team in the Eastern Conference, had 17 first-period shots on goal without scoring. Carolina also had 17 shots without a goal.

It was a tough night in terms of facial cuts for a pair of Carolina defenseman. Tim Gleason needed 16 stitches after taking a high stick from Florida's Scottie Upshall. Sanguinetti had 13 stitches after take a skating to the upper lip.

Meanwhile, Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk left in the second period with a lower-body injury and didn't return.

"When you lose a (defenseman) like that, it really puts some holes in your game," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said.

NOTES: Florida left wing Eric Selleck made his NHL debut after compiling 181 penalty minutes in 81 American Hockey League games with San Antonio. He filled in for enforcer George Parros, a right wing who didn't make the trip to Carolina because of an upper-body injury sustained in a fight during Saturday night's game. ... Selleck drew a game misconduct for instigating with 2:58 remaining when he was dropped to the ice by Carolina's Kevin Westgarth. ... Florida defenseman Ed Jovanovski's return to the lineup was short-lived. The captain was back for one game after missing 21 games with a lower-body injury, and now he's out with what has been described as a recurring injury. ... Right wing Adam Hall made his home debut for the Hurricanes. He was acquired off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning last weekend. ... The Panthers recalled center Quinton Howden from San Antonio earlier in the day, but he wasn't in the lineup. ... Florida played the first game of a season-long, five-game road trip, though this was the only game during that span against a Southeast Division rival. The Panthers play the Rangers in New York on Thursday. ... The Hurricanes began a stretch of three consecutive home games. The New Jersey Devils visit Carolina on Thursday.
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