Tied with the New York Rangers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Bruins are trying to avoid getting too far ahead of themselves.
"I don't think we feel too good about ourselves," Boston coach Claude Julien said Friday night after the Bruins' 4-2 victory over Florida. "Our team has not had to face this kind of thing for a long time ... being in first place."
Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron had a goal and an assist each to lead Boston to its eighth victory in nine games. The Bruins, 11-1-1 in their last 13 games and the winners of seven straight at home, matched the idle Rangers with 30 points.
"One of the things they preached at the start of the season was positioning," defenseman Aaron Ward said. "Teams that position themselves well by Thanksgiving have a tendency to really put themselves in good position at the end of the year."
In other NHL games Friday night, it was: Carolina 5, Phoenix 2; Tampa Bay 4, Nashville 1; Philadelphia 3, Buffalo 0; New Jersey 5, the New York Islanders 2; and St. Louis 3, Anaheim 2 in overtime.
In Boston, Phil Kessel and David Krejci added goals for the Bruins, and Tim Thomas made 30 saves to improve to 5-0-1 in his last six games.
David Booth and Ville Peltonen scored for Florida, playing on the road for eighth time in its last 10 games. The Panthers will play their next three at home.
"It's been a tough few weeks," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "A team like (Boston), they'll sting you. You make one mistake and it's in the net."
At Raleigh, N.C., Eric Staal scored three goals in less than 24 minutes to lead Carolina to its season-high third straight victory.
Busting out of an eight-game scoring drought, Staal completed his fifth career hat trick in the final minute of the second period.
Ray Whitney scored two late goals, including one into an empty net. Joni Pitkanen had three assists and Cam Ward stopped 26 shots for Carolina.
Shane Doan and Kevin Porter scored for Phoenix.
At Tampa, Fla., Vincent Lecavalier had two goals to lead Tampa Bay to its first victory since Rick Tocchet took over as interim coach.
Tocchet, who replaced the fired Barry Melrose on Nov. 14, lost his first two games as Tampa Bay's coach in shootouts. Mark Recchi and Vinny Prospal also scored to help the Lightning snap a five-game losing streak.
Jordin Tootoo scored for Nashville.
At Buffalo, N.Y., Martin Biron made 40 saves for his first shutout of the season and 24th overall, and Jeff Carter scored twice for Philadelphia.
Biron made several spectacular saves against his former team to help the Flyers improve to 8-6-4 with their third straight win and fourth in five games.
Scott Hartnell also scored for Philadelphia. Buffalo has lost four straight to fall to 1-5-1 in its last seven games.
At Newark, N.J., David Clarkson and Travis Zajac scored 10 seconds apart in the first period for New Jersey, and Kevin Weekes made 25 saves for his 100th NHL victory.
Bryce Salvador, Brian Gionta and Paul Martin also scored, and Jamie Langenbrunner and Zach Parise each had three assists to help the Devils win their third straight game and snap the Islanders' winning streak at three.
Andy Hilbert and Sean Bergenheim scored for the Islanders.
At St. Louis, Lee Stempniak scored an unassisted goal with 2:21 left in overtime for the Blues to end Anaheim's road winning streak at five games.
The Ducks' Scott Niedermayer scored with 0.9 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Chris Kunitz also scored for Anaheim. Steve Regier and David Backes had power-play goals for the Blues.