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Hurricanes-Panthers Preview @NHL
Hurricanes-Panthers Preview

GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (11-2-1) at Florida Panthers (6-7-3).

TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

Erik Cole and the Carolina Hurricanes try to extend a franchise-record eight-game winning streak as they visit the struggling Florida Panthers.

Cole scored on one of his two third-period penalty shots, and Cory Stillman matched a career high with three assists as the Hurricanes defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 on Wednesday night.

Cole, who also had two assists, became the first player in NHL history to take two penalty shots in one game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Wednesday's win was the eighth in a row for Carolina, eclipsing the club record. The previous mark was seven games, set from March 16-25, 1985 when the club was located in Hartford.

"Actually, I'm not sure we're paying attention to that," said Cole, who has seven points over the last three games. "I'm just paying attention to doing whatever it takes to help this team."

The Hurricanes, off to the best start in team history, have not lost in regulation since a 3-2 defeat to the New York Islanders on Oct. 8.

"When we come to the rink we're having fun, but we also expect to win," Stillman said. "That's a great mentality to have."

In Wednesday's win, Stillman and Cole assisted on Frantisek Kaberle's power-play goal, the Hurricanes' 10th in their last five games.

Martin Gerber tied a personal best with 41 saves in his second straight start for the Hurricanes. He stopped 29 shots in a 2-0 win over Florida on Saturday.

Following that defeat, the Panthers blew a late lead on Wednesday and lost to the New York Rangers in a shootout, 4-3. Roberto Luongo stopped Martin Straka, Michael Nylander and Jaromir Jagr in the shootout before Petr Prucha lifted a wrist shot over the goalie's glove.

Florida was playing at home for the first time since Oct. 20 after two home games were postponed due to Hurricane Wilma.

Stephen Weiss scored and set up Olli Jokinen's power-play goal that gave Florida a 3-2 lead at 13:56 of the second period. After the Panthers blew opportunities to pad the lead - Weiss and Jokinen hit the post on power plays - Luongo allowed the tying goal to Dominic Moore with 3 seconds left.

It was the first shootout of the season for Florida, which fell to 0-3-3 in its last six games.

"There's not much I can say now," Jokinen said. "We lose six in a row and have a division leader (Carolina) on Friday. It's going to be a big test for us. If you look at the standings we have to start catching teams now. Before, teams were catching us, now they went by us. We have to find a way to win."

STANDINGS (through Nov. 10): Hurricanes - 23 points, 1st place, Southeast Division. Panthers - 15 points, 3rd place, 8 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Hurricanes - Eric Staal, 11 goals, 15 assists and 26 points; Cole, 26 PIM. Panthers - Nathan Horton, 7 goals; Jokinen, 9 assists and 12 points; Branislav Mezei, 37 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 10): Hurricanes - Power play: 22.4 percent (20 for 89), 3rd in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.0 percent (64 for 79), 19th. Panthers - Power play: 13.2 percent (14 for 106), 26th. Penalty killing: 80.0 percent (84 for 105), 23rd (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Hurricanes - Gerber (5-1-0, 1 SO, 2.12 GAA); Cam Ward (5-1-1, 3.06). Panthers - Luongo (6-6-2, 2, 2.75); Jamie McLennan (0-1-0, 1.61).

SEASON SERIES: Hurricanes, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Saturday; Hurricanes, 2-0. At Raleigh, N.C., Gerber notched his fourth career shutout, and Rod Brind'Amour and Niclas Wallin scored third-period goals to keep the Hurricanes unbeaten at home.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 4-2-1 on the road; Panthers - 4-1-1 at home.

Associated Press

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