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Post-Game Notes: Panthers 2, Hurricanes 0

by Carly Peters / Florida Panthers
According to Elias Sports Bureau, this is the latest the Panthers have ever been in first place in their division, previously sitting in the top spot through 68 games on March 10, 2000. With a 36-22-5-5 record, Florida was tied with Washington with 82 points, but ranked first in the division because of one more win (36-35) with the same number of games played. After Washington’s 2-0 win vs. Toronto Sunday, the Panthers remain one point ahead of the Capitals for the top spot in the Southeast Division. Florida has now been in first place for 101 days on the season.

The Panthers moved to 32-23-13. It's the Panthers’ best record through 68 games since going 34-25-9 in 2008-09, and just one point shy of their best record since 1999-2000 (36-22-5-5).

Florida moved to 4-0-0 against Carolina this season, already clinching the season series with two games remaining. The two teams will face off in Carolina in 10 days, before meeting in the regular-season finale at BankAtlantic Center on April 7.

Jose Theodore made 34 saves to register his team-leading third shutout of the season. It was his first shutout in 23 appearances, since stopping all 40 shots he faces in a 2-0 win in Boston on Dec. 8. It was his first shutout at the BankAtlantic Center.

Tomas Fleischmann scored his second goal in as many games and moved into a tie with injured Kris Versteeg for the team lead in goals and points – 49 (22-27-49) in 68 games. He has 11 points (5-6-11) in his last 17 games and 15 points (7-8-15) in his last 21 contests. He is just one goal and two points shy of matching his full-season career high of 51 points (23-28-51) set in 69 games with Washington in 2009-10.

Stephen Weiss notched the primary assist on Fleischmann’s goal and now has 48 points (16-32-48) in 66 games this season, ranked third on the Panthers. He now has 30 points (11-19-30) in 47 career games against Carolina.

Wojtek Wolski earned an assist on Fleischmann’s goal and now has 11 points (4-7-11) in 11 career games against Carolina and has five points (2-3-5) in nine games with the Panthers since being acquired from the Rangers prior to the trade deadline. Throughout his career, he has performed well after late-season trades: he notched 18 points (6-12-18) in 18 games to end the 2009-10 season with Phoenix after being moved from Colorado and posted 19 points (6-13-19) in 37 games with the Rangers to finish the 2010-11 season after coming from Phoenix.

Jerred Smithson returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch Friday and won 6-of-7 faceoffs tonight. In eight games with the Panthers since being acquired from Nashville prior to the trade deadline, he has won 43-of-72 faceoffs he’s taken, for a 59.7% success rate on the draw. At the time of the trade, he ranked second on the Predators with a 55.6% rating in the faceoff circle.

Marcel Goc iced the win with an empty net goal. He now has 19 points (8-11-19) in 43 games, including 16 points (5-11-16) in 26 games since returning from injury.

Jason Garrison tied his season high with five hits and added an assist on Marcel Goc’s goal. He now has 26 points (14-12-26) in 63 games this season after tallying his first point in six games.

After starting the year 0-2-1 on Sunday, the Panthers have gone 5-1-0 in their last six Sunday games.

Florida scored the opening goal for the second consecutive game and just the sixth time in its last 18 games.  Florida is now 20-2-8 when scoring first, while the Hurricanes are 9-21-5 when their opponent starts the game’s scoring.

Florida outshot Carolina 14-5 in the opening period. It was the fewest shots the Panthers have allowed in an opening frame since limiting the Stars to four shots in the first period on Nov. 15 in Dallas.

The Panthers did not allow a first-period goal for the second consecutive game, after allowing at least one first-period marker in four straight and six of seven.

Five Panthers missed the game with injury, including Jack Skille who is missing the game after suffering an upper-body injury Friday. In total, Florida has now lost 304 man games to injury this season.

Tonight’s BankAtlantic Center attendance: 15,081

The Panthers return to action Tuesday, when they host Toronto at 7:30 on FOX Sports Florida and 560 WQAM.
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