Krys Barch and Tyson Strachan were the healthy scratches for Florida tonight, while Dmitry Kulikov, Kris Versteeg, Matt Bradley, Jack Skille and Scotty Upshall remain on the shelf with various ailments.
First Period: The Hurricanes dodged a bullet four minutes into the contest when Stephen Weiss, Sean Bergenheim, Keaton Ellerby and Mike Santorelli all got a shot on goal within a minute of each other. Cam Ward was the saving grace for the Hurricanes early, making saves both easy and difficult.
Through the first half of the period, the Panthers outshot the Hurricanes 10 shots to two, outhustling Carolina with crisp passing and timely takeaways.
At the 11 minute mark, John Madden fed the puck right through Cam Ward's goal mouth but there was no one there to capitalize on the great feed.
The teams traded chances for the rest of the period, with the majority of the action happening in the Carolina zone, but neither team could get on the board before the 20 minutes was up.
Just over three minutes into the period, Tomas Fleischmann got the cats on the board after shoveling a good feed from Stephen Weiss past Cam Ward to put the Cats up 1-0. Wojtek Wolski also collected an assist on the play. With the 22nd goal of the season, Fleischmann is now tied with Kris Versteeg for the team lead.
At the 4:36 mark, a penalty was called on Keaton Ellerby for interfering with Jussi Jokinen, who was also penalized for embellishing the interference. The result was four-on-four hockey for the next two minutes.
At the 8:31 mark, Erik Gudbranson was called for tripping Brandon Sutter, giving the Hurricanes their first power play of the night. Florida kept the Canes on their heels by timely clearing the puck out, and even got a shorthanded opportunity on a rush by Sean Bergenheim and John Madden.
Jussi Jokinen had two good chances to score on Jose Theodore with four minutes remaining in the period, one a point blank shot, but Theodore was equal to the task, and for the time being retained his shutout bid.
With just under a minute left in the period, Eric Staal was called for tripping Sean Bergenheim, giving the Panthers their first power play of the night. After getting two quick shots, the Panthers allowed an odd man rush to the Canes, who were stymied by Theodore as the period ended.
Florida opened the final regulation period on the power play, but despite a pretty good shot by Brian Campbell couldn't extend the lead.
Carolina would again go a man up with 15 minutes left in the period when Stephen Weiss hooked Jeff Skinner, but Carolina would not be able to get a decent threat going, and the Panthers killed the power play for the second time in the game.
Stephen Weiss and Tuomo Ruutu were called for matching slashing penalties with nine minutes remaining. For a second there, it looked like Weiss and Ruutu were about to square off, but were separated and sent to the box before getting started.
The resultant four-on-four yielded several end-to-end rushes and chances for each team. Sean Bergenheim and Mike Weaver each hit Cam Ward's best friend, the goal post, within 30-seconds of each other.
The Panthers seemed to go ahead when Jerred Smithson evidently scored with three minutes remaining, but after conferring with the review booth in Toronto, the goal was negated as it appeared that Smithson kicked the puck into the net.
The Hurricanes pulled the goalie with less than two minutes remaining, but before they could get anything going Marcel Goc doubled the Florida lead with an empty netter for his eight score of the season. Jason Garrison and Tomas Kopecky were given the assists on the play.
The game ended moments later, as Jose Theodore earned his third shutout of the year and his career 33rd. Counting last game, Theodore has stopped 67 of his last 68 shots faced.
Hits: Canes, 25-24 (Andreas Nodl, Chad LaRose and Anthony Stewart led the Hurricanes with four each, Erik Gudbranson and Jason Garrison led the Cats with five)
Blocked Shots: Tied, 13-13 (Tim Gleason and Keaton Ellerby each led their respective teams with four)
Faceoffs: Cats, 28-24 (Eric Staal went 10-of-21 in the faceoff circle, Stephen Weiss won 12-of-19 for the Cats)
Shots on goal: Canes, 34-32 (Pat Dwyer had six shots for the Canes, Stephen Weiss and Marcel Goc each had four for Florida)
Score: Panthers 2, Hurricanes 0