SUNRISE, Fla. – It was no great surprise that the Carolina Hurricanes snapped the Florida Panthers’ team-record tying, seven-game winning streak.
After all, the Hurricanes are 5-2 against the Panthers this season and 18-4-1 during the past three.
Sergei Samsonov and Eric Staal scored in the shootout to give the Hurricanes a 2-1 victory over the Panthers on Thursday night.
“I thought we played well,” said forward David Booth, who had an assist on Florida’s only goal. “They’re a good team. … I don’t know, we’ve just got to find a way to beat these guys.”
Carolina won the shootout 2-0, sealing the victory when Staal’s wrist shot trickled through Tomas Vokoun’s pads. Cam Ward stopped Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss in the tiebreaker.
“It’s huge to get a win like that in a shootout against a team playing for so much,” Staal said. “We went at it really hard and came out of here with two points. That’s big.”
Trevor Letowski scored in the first period for Carolina, which won for the 10th time in 13 games. The Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes have 87 points, seven more than second-place Washington.
“That team is really playing for something, and you can see how they got to this point, stringing together those wins,” Ward said. “But then you look at our effort against that and I think it says a lot about us.”
Weiss scored Florida’s only goal in the third period.
Despite the loss, the Panthers moved closer to the playoff cutoff in the Eastern Conference. Florida has 79 points, four behind seventh-place Boston and three behind eighth-place Philadelphia, but is still in 11th.
“There were a lot of positives to take from that game,” Booth said. “We’ve been playing well. You take the positives from this game, we got a point, but we’ve just got to put this one behind us and prepare for Saturday (against Tampa Bay).”
Ward made 36 saves in regulation and overtime, five fewer than Vokoun.
Florida came into the game with the NHL’s fifth-ranked power play while Carolina came in with the worst penalty-killing percentage. The Panthers were 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
Florida managed nine total shots on back-to-back power plays late in the second period.
“We had second and third opportunities, but (Ward) made saves,” defenceman Cory Murphy said. “We wanted to get pucks on net, and we did that for sure. We couldn’t get one by him.”
Letowski opened the scoring 3:21 in when his wrist shot from just inside the blue-line went off the stick of defenceman Karlis Skrastins and beat Vokoun.
“It was flying awkwardly and it ducked,” Vokoun said. “There’s virtually nothing you can do. Sometimes a goal looks bad, but there’s nothing you can do.”
The Panthers started to take control midway through the second period. Florida had a 19-3 shots advantage in a 13-minute stretch spanning the second and third periods.
Ward’s best save during that time came when he slid across the crease to glove Olli Jokinen’s shot toward an open net. It left Jokinen talking to himself and Ward.
“I asked how he saved it,” Jokinen said. “He said he didn’t even see the puck in his glove. It was one of those reaction saves. It’s probably going to be one of those highlight saves, that’s for sure.”
Florida trailed 1-0 heading into the third period before Weiss tied it 22 seconds in. He banged in a rebound after Ward stopped Booth’s slapshot.
Carolina dominated overtime, outshooting the Panthers 5-1.
“After they tied it up, they had us scrambling a little, but as the third period went on we got stronger and stronger,” Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. “It’s nice that they’re chasing us because you see that effort on both sides. It’s all about the points, and we were able to come away with two.”
Notes: Florida also had seven-game winning streaks in the 1995-96 and 2005-06 seasons. … Florida D Bryan Allen returned after missing one game because of a hand injury. … Carolina D Niclas Wallin played in his 400th NHL game. … Carolina LW Wade Brookbank returned after missing five games because of a leg injury. … Carolina improved to 6-8-2 in the second of back-to-back games.