SUNRISE, Fla. - Propelled by a four-goal first period, the Carolina Hurricanes blew past the Florida Panthers, 6-3, to win their fourth straight game to begin the season.
Twelve different Hurricanes skaters recorded points, including five who had two points each, to help the Canes match a franchise best start (4-0-0) set in the 1995-96 season.
Here are five takeaways from South Florida.
1. A Win's a Win
It wasn't exactly pretty, but a win's a win, and for the fourth straight game - and first in regulation - the Hurricanes have banked two points in the standings.
After the Canes grabbed a 5-0 lead through just over 20 minutes, the Panthers fought back to draw within two goals until the Canes sealed their win with an empty-net goal.
It was a battle and a grind, but the Canes were the better team out of the gate and were rewarded for it.
"We're just grinding, trying to play our best games and accumulate as many points as possible," said James Reimer, who made 47 saves on 50 shots in a win against his former team. "Tonight, everyone worked their butts off and sacrificed. It was another heck of a win for us."
"You play to win," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "I didn't love this game. It was probably our worst game of the bunch, and yet we scored six goals. It's strange how that works out. A lot to work on, which is great, but we're still in a good spot."
2. Ready to Play
The "last minute to play in the first period" public address announcement drew a mercy cheer from the crowd in South Florida.
One look at the scoreboard illustrated why.
In the span of just about 12 minutes in the first period, the Hurricanes hung a foursome of goals on Sergei Bobrovsky and the Panthers to take a commanding 4-0 lead into the intermission. Nine different skaters recorded points in the opening frame, including a pair of assists for Andrei Svechnikov and a goal and an assist for Teuvo Teravainen.
Jordan Staal got the party started just about seven minutes into the game. The Panthers were plenty content to sag in the zone, allowing the Canes to work the puck around the perimeter like a power play and giving Jake Gardiner plenty of room to let a shot rip. The puck took a few bounces - the official scorers said Brock McGinn tipped it before it careened off the skate of Mark Pysyk - and Staal banged in the rebound on the doorstep.
Video: CAR@FLA: Staal buries tipped puck at the doorstep
"We came out ready to play. That's the reason we won," Reimer said. "If we don't come out and play that hard in the first, it's a different game."
The rest of the rally in the first was fueled by a momentum-swinging sequence.
The Canes, whose penchant for penalties persisted for much of the night and dunked them in a bit of hot water late, were faced with a 5-on-3 disadvantage for 70 seconds. It was a solid kill, highlighted by blocks from Jaccob Slavin and Joel Edmundson and a snow-angel save from Reimer.
Just 24 seconds later, Teravainen redirected a Haydn Fleury shot that looked to be headed well wide of the net, a dagger to double the Canes' lead.
Video: CAR@FLA: Teravainen redirects puck past Bobrovsky
"That, to me, is the play of the game. We had some huge blocks … and then we go down and score," Brind'Amour said. "That kills the other team. Give them credit. They fought back and played a good game after that, but that's probably the turning point of the game."
The Canes then added three more consecutive goals - two in the first to chase Bobrovsky at intermission and one early in the second - to build a sizeable advantage.
Video: CAR@FLA: Hamilton, Svechnikov connect to extend lead
"We got some goals early," Brind'Amour said. "The start was great. Really, that's where the game was one."
3. Double Dzingel
Ryan Dzingel scored his first two goals with his new team back-to-back, goals separated by an intermission but just 3:17 in actual game time.
His first came on a power play late in the first period. Dzingel was parked in front of the net, stick on the ice, and Teravainen delivered a feed right on the tape that he tapped in to give the Hurricanes a 4-0 lead.
Video: CAR@FLA: Dzingel tips goal home on power play
Early in the second, after dishing the puck off at the point, Dzingel cut to the net. Martin Necas put a shot on goal, and Dzingel potted the rebound.
Video: CAR@FLA: Dzingel sweeps up rebound for second goal
"Two easy ones there. I'll take them," he said. "Great plays by the guys. Pretty much free goals. I like it."
4. Everyone Contributing
Until late in the third period, the Hurricanes having scored 15 goals in their first four games of the season, Sebastian Aho was the only forward who didn't have a point.
Then, he raced down the ice with the puck and hammered it in the empty net. First point of the season, and a victory emphatically sealed.
Video: CAR@FLA: Aho seals 6-3 win with empty-netter
"Even Aho getting an empty-netter at the end, he's been pressing. He was shooting everything from all over trying to get a goal," Brind'Amour said. "Hopefully that relaxes him to go out and play his game."
This, after the Panthers mounted a frenetic comeback attempt. They fired 40 shots on Reimer in the final 40 minutes of the game, including 22 alone in the second period, and got within two goals, but the five-goal hole was too deep to climb out of.
"The legs were a little tired," Reimer said of his workload. "Hey, you're just battling. That's what it comes down to. You're just willing yourself to make saves and hang in there."
"Believe it or not, playing with a big lead is actually tough because the other team is just going crazy," Brind'Amour said. "We did sit back a tiny bit, and Reims had to come up with too many big saves, but at the end of the day, the game was won because the guys came out ready to play."
5. 50 for Roddy
It took Brind'Amour just 86 games to earn 50 wins as head coach of the Hurricanes, 10 games faster than his old head coach, Peter Laviolette, did it. Brind'Amour was already the quickest to achieve 20, 30 and 40 wins, and now he adds 50 to a list that will likely continue to grow.
It's an impressive string of accomplishments, a testament to Brind'Amour's dedication to his position and the buy-in he's received from his team
"Everybody, every guy down the lineup is contributing," Dzingel said. "It's everyone tugging on the same rope."
The Hurricanes will host the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday and Saturday, respectively, the first of three back-to-back sets that don't require travel for the Canes this season.