The Florida Panthers
have no trouble getting the jump on the Carolina Hurricanes
. It's putting the 'Canes away that's the tough part.
For the third time this season, Carolina spotted the Panthers a multi-goal lead bfore rallying. This time, Florida led 2-0 after one period, but Jeff Skinner scored twice and Eric Staal broke a 2-2 tie at 9:34 into the third period as the Hurricanes rallied for a 5-3 win on Friday night.
"We'd like to get off to a better start," Skinner said. "I think we play better when we're a bit angry. After those first two goals we got a little bit angry, and that sparked us to play a better game."
It was the third time in five games against Florida that Carolina rallied from a two- or three-goal deficit. The Hurricanes wiped out a 3-0, first-period hole to win 4-3 on Dec. 15 and came back from being down 3-1 down in the third period on Monday before losing 4-3 in overtime.
"Up 2-0, we should have taken control," Florida defenseman Bryan Allen said. "Carolina does it time and time again against us."
Staal put Carolina ahead to stay with his 20th goal of the season. After a turnover in the neutral zone, he skated in and beat Tomas Vokoun with a wrister past the goaltender's catching glove.
Staal has scored at least 20 goals in six consecutive seasons, joining Kevin Dineen and Ron Francis as the only players in franchise history to do it.
"I tried to delay a little bit," Staal said of his goal. "I let a good wrister go and I think it went off their 'D' stick a little bit and caught Vokoun with a good shot over the glove."
Erik Cole added an insurance goal at 17:00 when he took Skinner's backhand pass in front of the net and fired a wrist shot past Vokoun. Cole added an empty-netter with 50 seconds left before Marty Reasoner scored 12 seconds later.
Skinner, who came into the game leading NHL rookies with 28 points, scored his goals in the second period to help Carolina tie the game. Tuomo Ruutu added 3 assists.
Backup goalie Justin Peters stopped 32 shots for Carolina, 4-0-2 in its last six games.
"I'm really happy for him," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said of his young goaltender, who gave starter Cam Ward a night off. "He hasn't played a lot. He kind of got shelled in his last game, and his numbers aren't great. This is a real important game for him because he earned the win."
Peters is 2-4-1, with both victories coming at Florida.
"That's just the way it goes," Peters said. "It's a fun barn to come in and play. I was just excited about the opportunity."
Reasoner and David Booth scored in the first period for the Panthers, 5-3-2 in their last 10 games. Vokoun finished with 30 saves.
"We kind of got off our game," Reasoner said. "We had a good first period but then we let them back in the game again."
Skinner scored his first goal 1:46 into the second with a slick move from the slot. After taking a pass from Ruutu, he faked a shot before stickhandling around defenseman Dmitry Kulikov and beating Vokoun with a wrist shot.
On his second goal, Patrick Dwyer's pass was deflected, bounced off Skinner's leg and off defenseman Dennis Wideman before floating over Vokoun's head.
"The second one was a bit of a lucky bounce," Skinner said. "You look back at times when things aren't going well and you get bounces like that. I tried to slow down to bat it out of the air and it tipped off my leg and sort of found a way in there."
Booth opened the scoring 1:36 into the game when he beat Peters on a wraparound. Reasoner made it 2-0 at 12:30 by tipping Wideman's slapper from the point past Peters.
"We came out with the right attitude. We were prepared," Florida coach Pete DeBoer said. "The first period was fantastic. There wasn't any change of mindset or anything else. We just hit a little bit of a fatigue wall and started making some mental mistakes."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report