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Stillman's third-period goal leads Hurricanes past Panthers 6-4

"The whole team was in here (during the second intermission) and we knew what we had to do," centre Chad LaRose said. "It wasn't any of the coaches. It was our leaders stepping in and letting us know what we had to get done. We had to dig a little bit deeper."

The result: A flurry of five goals in less than 10 minutes, and a most improbable come-from-behind victory.

Cory Stillman scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third, and the Hurricanes rallied from a three-goal deficit by matching a franchise record with six third-period goals in a 6-4 victory over Florida on Thursday night.

"For a lot of the second period, it seemed like we were worried about matchups (and) I don't think we were letting it fly like we were in the third period," left-winger Erik Cole said.

Cole, LaRose, Scott Walker, Craig Adams and Ray Whitney also scored for the Hurricanes, who scored their first five goals in an eight-minute, 22-second span of the third after falling behind 3-0 after two periods.

"Lousy two. Good one," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. "We're capable of beating anybody in the league, and we're capable of a third period like that, and we don't compete very hard in the first two."

Whitney's goal, an empty-net goal in the final seconds, closed a six-goal third period which tied the team record set Dec. 27, 1981, against Toronto when they were the Hartford Whalers.

Olli Jokinen scored two goals and Juraj Kolnik and Stephen Weiss added one goal apiece for the Panthers in what seemed like an easy victory but melted down into just another empty trip to Raleigh - where they haven't won since Dec. 6, 2002.

"It's like something rotten in our stomachs," Florida defenceman Mike Van Ryn said. "It's going to be rough video to watch. We played two great periods and were getting stellar goaltending. We were scoring on our opportunities and we weren't giving up a lot.

"Then, somewhere between the second and the third (periods), our game changed," he added. "We got away from our game plan. We stopped wanting the puck."

Cam Ward stopped 28 shots in two periods, and was benched after allowing three goals in the second. John Grahame finished the game and stopped six shots.

"Cam Ward deserves every bit as much of that win as Johnny Grahame was, because Cam Ward was pretty darn good for two periods," Laviolette said. "We failed in front of him."

The Hurricanes won after trailing by three goals for the first time since Nov. 5. 1998, when the New York Islanders blew a 3-0 lead and lost to Carolina 6-3.

Alex Auld stopped 21 shots but gave up five goals for Florida.

Down 3-0 after two periods, LaRose started the comeback when he flipped the puck past Auld from the right circle. Cole made it a one-goal game one minute, 26 seconds later with a wrist shot and Walker tied it at 3-3 with a wraparound goal between Auld's legs.

Then came Stillman's game-winner on the power play. Andrew Hutchinson faked a shot and passed to Stillman as he manoeuvred into the slot and beat Auld with a wrist shot with 10:25 to play.

"I thought he was shooting it at the goalie, too, and if it's not on my stick, obviously, it goes right in the corner," Stillman said. "I put my stick on it and found the back of the net."

The Panthers seemed to have taken control during a dominant second period in which they outshot the Hurricanes 19-8 and scored their first two goals in a span of 50 seconds.

"When we play like that in the third, there's definitely no excuses for the first two periods," LaRose said.

First, Kolnik made it 1-0 when he positioned himself near the goal mouth, muscled a rebound past Ward off the left post with 8:01 left. Then, Ville Peltonen came up the left side and passed to Jokinen, who skated inside the left circle and beat Ward high with a wrist shot at 7:11.

"We should be able to hold a three-goal lead," Jokinen said. "It's embarrassing."

Notes: Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour had three assists, while C Eric Belanger and Hutchinson each had two. . . . Whitney wore an "A" on his sweater after alternate captain Kevyn Adams was traded earlier in the week to Phoenix. . . . Hurricanes D Glen Wesley (lower-body injury) missed his third straight game. . . . Florida fell to 1-8 when playing the second of back-to-back games and has an Eastern Conference-worst five road victories. . . . The Hurricanes have scored one first-period goal in their last six games.


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