Hurricanes rip Panthers 5-1 in next-to-last game before Sochi break
Riley Nash and Alexander Semin scored 87 seconds apart early in the Carolina Hurricanes' 5-1 rout of the Florida Panthers on Friday night.
Brett Bellemore, Jiri Tlusty and Andrej Sekera also scored, and Jeff Skinner had two assists to help the Hurricanes win their seventh in 10 games.
Eric Staal set the club record for career shots on goal, passing Hall of Famer Ron Francis late in the second period. Staal finished with four shots, giving him 2,542.
Anton Khudobin stopped 34 shots in his 16th straight appearance for Carolina.
Nick Bjugstad scored for Florida, which enters the Olympic break having lost five of six.
Tim Thomas stopped just 10 of the 14 shots he faced. He was pulled with 15:24 left in the second after Tlusty tapped in a rebound to make it 4-1.
Scott Clemmensen replaced him and stopped 16 shots.
The Hurricanes improved to 30-7-4 at PNC Arena against the Panthers, winning both meetings this season. The teams were formerly Southeast Division rivals before realignment sent Carolina to the Metropolitan and Florida to the Atlantic.
The Hurricanes pulled even with fifth-place Washington with 61 points in the crowded Metropolitan, while Florida remains firmly in seventh place in its division.
Carolina pounced on the Panthers early in this one, with Nash and Semin striking in bang-bang fashion.
Nash scored at 9:17 of the first when Tuomo Ruutu dug the puck out near the boards and slipped it toward the slot to Nash, who beat Thomas high.
Semin then made it a two-goal game at 10:44 with a spinning wrist shot — his third goal in two games this season against Thomas and the Panthers.
After Bjugstad pulled Florida to 2-1 with a wrist shot that trickled past Khudobin, Bellemore restored Carolina's two-goal lead with a slap shot with 1:39 left in the first.
NOTES: Staal, who assisted on Tlusty's goal, has 36 points in 35 games. ... Ruutu skated in his 600th career game. ... Carolina improved to 16-1-4 when scoring first. ... Bellemore and Florida D Erik Gudbranson slugged it out with 5:29 left in the second. Bellemore ended the fight by slamming Gudbranson to the ice.
HURRICANES 5, PANTHERS 1
First Period_1, Carolina, Nash 8 (Ruutu), 9:17. 2, Carolina, Semin 14, 10:44. 3, Florida, Bjugstad 13 (Olsen, Upshall), 15:30. 4, Carolina, Bellemore 2 (Lindholm, Skinner), 18:21. Penalties_None.
Second Period_5, Carolina, Tlusty 9 (E.Staal), 4:36. Penalties_Sekera, Car (delay of game), 7:39; Gilbert, Fla (interference), 7:50; Barkov, Fla (goaltender interference), 9:49; Ruutu, Car (goaltender interference), 12:20; Gudbranson, Fla, major (fighting), 14:31; Bellemore, Car, major (fighting), 14:31; Malhotra, Car (holding), 15:18.
Third Period_6, Carolina, Sekera 9 (Skinner, Jo.Staal), 12:48 (pp). Penalties_Boyes, Fla (hooking), 12:42; Jo.Staal, Car (tripping), 13:36.
Shots on Goal_Florida 10-15-10_35. Carolina 12-9-11_32.
Power-play opportunities_Florida 0 of 4; Carolina 1 of 3.
Goalies_Florida, Thomas 15-18-3 (14 shots-10 saves), Clemmensen (4:36 second, 18-17). Carolina, Khudobin 13-5-0 (35-34).
A_16,132 (18,680). T_2:19.
Referees_Dennis LaRue, Kyle Rehman. Linesmen_Darren Gibbs, Don Henderson.