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Hurricanes 8, Flyers 6 @NHLdotcom

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The Carolina Hurricanes are quite comfortable at home when playing from behind.

Matt Cullen beat Antero Niittymaki from the right side late in the third period Friday night and Eric Staal had a hat trick as the Hurricanes rallied again and beat the Philadelphia Flyers 8-6.

Carolina overcame a two-goal deficit for the third straight game and extended the best start in franchise history (7-2-1). And it proved to be just the latest boost for a team already brimming with confidence.

``The way our team's playing right now,'' Staal said, ``you can't really count us out. I think the league's taking notice of that.''

The Hurricanes scored eight goals in a game for the first time since 1996, and have outscored their opponents 16-7 in the third period this season. The team's previous best start after 10 games was a 6-3-1 opening in 1984 as the Hartford Whalers.

Carolina had trailed 3-1 before scoring the last three goals in a 4-3 overtime win against Boston on Wednesday, and rallied from a 2-0 deficit in a 3-2 victory over Ottawa on Monday.

The Hurricanes pulled this one off despite trailing 2-0 early and 5-3 heading into the third period. They also allowed Philadelphia to get 34 shots on goal and committed 11 penalties, helping the Flyers tally four power-play goals.

``It just seemed to keep going against us,'' Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. ``We just couldn't seem to get it going straight. I was talking to (defenseman Glen Wesley) after the game and I said, 'You guys just won't quit will you?' And they didn't.''

Cory Stillman had a third-period goal and assisted on Staal's first-period tally, while Rod Brind'Amour also had a final-period score to go with two assists.

Jonathan Sim scored twice for the Flyers, who were coming off an overtime win against Florida on Thursday.

Both teams were 4-0-1 in their previous five games, with Carolina leading the Southeast Division. They each put on an offensive show in a game that featured 16 power-play opportunities.

Ultimately, Cullen, Staal and Stillman kept the Hurricanes unbeaten in five home games, setting a record for consecutive home wins since relocating from Hartford.

The Hurricanes outscored the Flyers 5-1 in the final 20 minutes, fighting back with three straight goals to take a 6-5 lead on Staal's third of the night. The Hurricanes then answered Sim's tying goal with Cullen's score.

With Carolina on the power play, Cullen took a pass from Oleg Tverdovsky, skated inside of Joni Pitkanen and beat Niittymaki for a power-play goal and a 7-6 lead at 14:45 of the third.

Staal - who turns 21 on Saturday - got the hat trick when he tried to beat Niittymaki with a wraparound. He recovered the puck and fired a shot directly in front of the crease. Niittymaki made the stop, but Staal got the puck again and fired it in for the 6-5 lead.

He scored his second goal when he took a long pass from Wesley and beat Niittymaki midway through the second period as he skated in from the blue line.

Staal's first goal came off a short pass from Stillman. He scored from the left side just seconds before the opening period ended. Officials first ruled that the puck bounced off a Philadelphia player, and credited the goal to Stillman. It was changed shortly after the game.

Josef Vasicek added an empty-netter to seal it for Carolina, which also got goals from former Flyers Brind'Amour and Justin Williams.

``I think you should win if you have a two-goal lead,'' said Philadelphia's Peter Forsberg, who had a goal and an assist. ``When you stop playing and stop working hard, that's when the other team is going to be all over you the whole time.''

Notes: The announced attendance was 18,165, the highest for Carolina during its three-game homestand and the second-best at home this season. ... Carolina LW Ray Whitney had an assist for the fourth straight game. ... The Flyers were 3-for-15 on the power play in the past two games. ... The Hurricanes were 3-for-7 with the man advantage.

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