Analysis from Florida
→ Led by Jeff Skinner's two goals, the Carolina Hurricanes edged the Florida Panthers, 4-3, to extend their point streak to eight games (5-0-3).
"It's good character," Skinner said. "In order to do that, Wardo had to play big. He did a great job keeping us in it, allowing us to stay within arm's reach. It was a good job by special teams, first responding. And then to get that last one is a good feeling for us. Hopefully we can keep it going."
Video: Skinner, Ward power Canes past Panthers, 4-3
→ Skinner's two-goal performance was his third in his last six games, a stretch in which he's totaled seven goals.
His second tally of the night, scored in the final five minutes of regulation, gave the Hurricanes' their first lead of the game. Derek Ryan fed Skinner in the slot with a beautiful backhand feed, and Skinner banged it home for his team-leading 28th goal of the season.
"[Ryan] made a great play driving wide. I just had to go to the net with my stick on the ice and put it on the net," Skinner said.
"He's at the net. He's doing things right," head coach Bill Peters said. "He went to the net hard on the game-winner and got rewarded for it. You do good things on a consistent basis, and typically you will get rewarded in this league."
Skinner's first of the night came in the second period, 27 seconds after the Panthers had scored to take a 3-2 lead. Jaccob Slavin sprung Lee Stempniak on a breakaway. Reto Berra made the initial save, but Skinner was there to clean up the rebound.
"Stemper and Doc, I felt like they were playing well today, and I was able to read off them," Skinner said. "Stemper makes a great play driving the net, and I just followed it up."
The 24-year-old forward is now closing in on the 30-goal mark for the third time in seven seasons.
"He's been really good," Sebastian Aho said of his teammate. "Jeff has scored so many important goals, and there have been many other guys who have also played really well."
→ The Hurricanes and Panthers traded two goals apiece in a back-and-forth first period.
It was the Panthers getting the scoring started early in the first two minutes of the game when Aleksander Barkov redirected a point shot off the stick of Jason Demers.
On their first power play of the game, the Hurricanes answered back. Aho's shot was tipped wide in the slot by Jordan Staal, and Teuvo Teravainen hammered in the carom off the end boards for his 15th goal of the season.
"We have played really well for a while now. We've got good confidence. That helps," Aho said. "We trust ourselves. One [goal] down, we keep playing our own game."
The Panthers reclaimed a one-goal lead when former Hurricane Jussi Jokinen slid the puck over to Reilly Smith, and he punched it in on the rush.
The Hurricanes again answered back, this time on the penalty kill. Elias Lindholm picked the puck up at his own blue line and raced down the ice. Once he gained the zone, he twirled and fired a backhand pass over to a streaking Aho, who dragged the puck through Reto Berra.
"They're real important," Peters said of the quick response goals. "We're a better team when it's either tied or we're playing with the lead. Young group. You feel a little more confident in that situation, so those were real big answers. The power play was real good and a big shorthanded goal by Seabass."
Lindholm's primary assist extended his career long point streak to eight games (3g, 6a) and put him at the 40-point mark (9g, 31a) for the first time in his young career.
→ The back-and-forth action carried over into the second frame, as the Panthers again took a lead and the Hurricanes again answered, all in a span of 27 seconds.
Keith Yandle attempted a centering pass to Jonathan Huberdeau, but the puck never got to him, deflecting in past Cam Ward off a stick in front. Then, Skinner tied it up on a rebound goal, his first of the night.
"It's a good job by us sticking with it," Skinner said. "Especially on the road, you're looking for positive things, so you want to have good responses after a goal against or even a goal for, you want to get off to a good start and get back to work."
→ I looked at this when the Hurricanes and Panthers first met this season in November and knew the number would have grown since then. In November, 11 of the team's 18 skaters were not yet born when Jaromir Jagr played in his first NHL game (Oct. 5, 1990). Tonight, that number grew to 15 of 18 - only Derek Ryan, Jordan Staal and Lee Stempniak were alive when Jagr made his league debut.
→ The Hurricanes will trade sand and sunshine for frigid temperatures north of the border when the team heads to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Thursday night.
"We're getting contributions from everyone," Skinner said. "When you go on a run, you're going to have to win different ways and have to have guys step up on different nights and get key plays at key times in games. For us, Eddie and Wardo have had some real good games in that stretch, and special teams have been a factor."