Panthers pull out 3-2 shootout win against Hurricanes

Cats creep back within a point of a playoff spot

The Florida Panthers ended a four-game home ice losing streak with a 3-2 shootout win over the out-of-the-race Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night at the BB&T Center.

Florida got off to a fast start as it looked to end a four-game homestand on a high note after dropping games to Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa.

The Cats took advantage of a too many men on the ice call on the Hurricanes to the lead at the 12:35 mark of the first period.

Jonathan Huberdeau’s stellar feed found Jaromir Jagr in front and the grizzled vet beat Cam Ward for his 12th of the season. Aleksander Barkov drew the second helper for his part in the pretty passing play.

A determined Vincent Trocheck punched home the rebound of a Reilly Smith shot 4:12 later to put the Panthers up by two. Alex Petrovic collected the second assist on Trocheck’s team-leading 22nd goal.

The Hurricanes came up with the only goal of the second period when Lee Stempniak converted a nice return pass from Teuvo Teravainen at 9:46. The second assist on the tally went to defenseman Jaccob Slavin.

Carolina’s Sebastian Aho evened the game 5:48 into the third period, beating Petrovic to the rebound of Victor Rask’s shot and scooping it by Roberto Luongo. Elias Lindholm collected the secondary assist on the play.

After overtime failed to produce a winner, the game went to the shootout where Barkov scored a jaw-dropper in the first round and Huberdeau clinched it with a round three backhander after Luongo denied Stempniak and Aho missed.

Luongo delivered a solid start, finishing with 23 saves while Ward made 29 stops for the Hurricanes.

The ugly win pulled the Cats within a point of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who dropped a 3-1 decision in San Jose, for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 20 games to go.

Florida will visit Phiadelphia on Thursday before returning home for games against Dallas, the New York Rangers and Minnesota.


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