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game recap

Aho, special teams lift Hurricanes past Panthers

Scores twice shorthanded for Carolina, which goes 8-for-9 on penalty kill

by Alain Poupart / Independent Correspondent

Aho pads lead with SHG

CAR@FLA: Aho finishes Necas' dish for SHG

Sebastian Aho puts home the dish from Martin Necas on the two-on-none rush to give the Hurricanes a 3-1 lead late in the 2nd period

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SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sebastian Aho scored two shorthanded goals for the Carolina Hurricanes in a 4-2 win against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center on Thursday.

The Hurricanes were 1-for-3 on the power play and 8-for-9 on the penalty kill.

"We played our butts off," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "Had to kill penalties. We had guys log 800 minutes and block shots. That's how you've got to win. That was a great effort. Great saves. Everything. It was a gross hockey game, but that's because we were in the box the whole night. But that was a great effort by a lot of guys tonight."

Jordan Martinook and Nino Niederreiter scored for the Hurricanes (31-10-5), and Alex Nedeljkovic made 32 saves.

Aleksander Barkov scored twice for the Panthers (30-13-5), who were 4-0-1 in their prior five games. Sergei Bobrovsky made 25 saves.

Carolina leads Florida by two points for first in the Discover Central Division.

"Coming here, I had the same questions as the (six) other games, same type of games, same type of finish," Barkov said. "Tight game and they find a way to win those games. We're in a good spot in the standings, but Carolina has been beating us this season. We have to find a way to apply the whole 60 minutes."

Video: CAR@FLA: Aho scores SHG in the 3rd

Carolina is 6-0-1 against Florida. The teams end the two-game set here Saturday.

"It had that (playoff) feel, from puck drop to the final buzzer," Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg said. "We knew it was going to be an intense game. You've got to tip your cap to them, they played well. We welcome the challenge, we know we can beat this team, so we're looking ahead looking forward to next game."

Barkov gave Florida a 1-0 lead at 6:22 of the first period with his 20th goal of the season.

Martinook tied it 1-1 at 14 seconds of the second period when he redirected Jordan Staal's pass from behind the net. Martinook left in the period with an undisclosed injury after taking a hip check from defenseman Radko Gudas.

Video: CAR@FLA: Martinook buries Staal's centering feed

Niederreiter gave Carolina a 2-1 at 11:09 with a power-play goal, scoring on a rebound.

Aho scored shorthanded at 18:08 for a 3-1 lead. He finished a 2-on-0 with Martin Necas after a turnover at the Carolina blue line.

"I thought I had a breakaway there, but [Necas] is fast," Aho said. "He caught me and it was a 2-on-0. It was kind of surprising. Obviously, you don't get many of those. It was kind of a funny moment, but happy to be able to score on that."

Barkov made it 3-2 at 12:02 of the third period with a wrist shot from the slot on a 5-on-3 power play.

Florida nearly tied the game with 3:18 remaining when Jonathan Huberdeau shot on a rebound, but Nedeljkovic made a glove save.

"The penalty kill came up huge and that was the key for the game, and for sure [Nedeljkovic]," Necas said. "He played an unbelievable game."

Aho scored a shorthanded empty-net goal at 19:44 for the 4-2 final.

"Every win is huge, especially against teams like Tampa [Bay] and Florida," Necas said. "These games feel kind of like playoff games. It was a huge game. You've got to build on that and maybe next game don't take as many penalties. It's pretty hard to defend those."

NOTES: Florida defenseman Keith Yandle played his 914th consecutive game, tying Garry Unger for the second-longest streak in NHL history. Doug Jarvis has the longest streak at 964 games. … Brind'Amour did not have an update on Martinook after the game. … Carolina defensemen Brett Pesce played 28:18 and Jaccob Slavin played 27:05 . … Necas had three assists. … Barkov is the first Panthers player to have six 20-goal seasons. Olli Jokinen and Nathan Horton each had five.

Video: Aho scores two SHG's to propel Hurricanes to 4-2 win

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