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Hurricanes 1, Panthers 0 @NHL

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) - Martin Gerber has no problem shutting down the Florida Panthers.

Gerber stopped 26 shots Friday night and Eric Staal scored the game's only goal in the Carolina Hurricanes' 1-0 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Gerber posted his second shutout of the season - both over Florida - and had to be perfect to outduel Roberto Luongo, his Panthers counterpart.

"We have a really good feeling right now," Gerber said. "Even with a couple guys out, we still played like a unit and with a lot of confidence out there."

Luongo made 34 saves, but it wasn't enough to keep his team from a seventh consecutive game.

"It's the same old story, we took too many penalties," Florida forward Olli Jokinen said.

Gerber stopped 27 shots last Saturday in Carolina's 2-0 win against the Panthers.

Staal connected on the power play with 2:44 left in the second period. Erik Cole passed from behind the net to Staal just outside the crease. Staal flipped the puck over a prone Luongo into the right corner of the net.

"Cole made a great pass through the back door," Staal said. "You never know with Luongo I just buried it hard. I had a little bit of an empty cage."

The Panthers' best chance to tie it came at 15:59 of the third period. Niklas Hagman got the puck directly in front of the crease and took a shot, but Gerber made a pad save and fell on the rebound.

"A game like that, 1-0, and I got a chance to put it in," Hagman said. "It's about getting these chances. Mentally, it's tough."

Cole, who on Wednesday became the first NHL player awarded two penalty shots in a game, was given another attempt at 14:36 of the first period after he was being pulled down from behind on a breakaway by Mike Van Ryn. His penalty-shot attempt went high and wide to the left of Luongo.

"The new rules have been a big benefit for me to use my speed through the neutral ice," Cole said. "It lets me use my best asset to beat guys up the middle and force them into hauling me down. But then, I have to capitalize on it.

"I changed the curve of my stick to put it over his glove and it went too high."

Carolina had only two penalties, while Florida was whistled for seven.

"It was a real good 60 minutes for us," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said.

Notes: Cole, who went 1-for-2 on penalty shots against Buffalo, joined Esa Pirnes of the Los Angeles Kings (Oct. 10-12, 2003) as the only players to take penalty shots in consecutive games. ... Florida's Anthony Stewart left the game with a wrist injury and didn't return. ... Panthers defenseman Branislav Mezei will miss the rest of the season with torn ligaments in his knee. Mezei was injured Wednesday against the New York Rangers.

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