RALEIGH — Jordan Staal scored the go-ahead goal in the third period as the Hurricanes rallied from behind to beat the Panthers 5-2 on Tuesday at PNC Arena. Vincent Trocheck and Dougie Hamilton both scored power play goals, and Staal and Jesper Fast added empty-net goals in the win.
1. Like the two games against Dallas, there was plenty of crashing and banging Tuesday between Florida and Carolina — 77 hits in all. But switching out the Stars for the Panthers added another element: speed.
“It was physical, but it was also really fast,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “So it was way different in a lot of ways than the other night. That team there, they’re high-octane, Florida.
“They transition really well, and you make any little mistake in the O zone, they’re going the other way.”
But the physicality was also there, and Carolina ended the game with two statement moments.
Staal scored the first empty-net goal by powering through Aleksander Barkov and Patrik Hornqvist — Florida’s two most physical players all night — and willed the puck into the net.
“He does that every night,” Trocheck said of Staal. “You know what you’re getting out of Jordo every night. He’s coming to play. He’s bringing his work boots, and he just leads by example out there. He’s the epitome of a captain.”
Then Andrei Svechnikov, still mired in a bit of a slump, was the catalyst for the second empty-netter, shoving down Barkov in the Florida end and getting the puck to Sebastian Aho for the last of his three assists on a pass to Fast for the final goal.
2. There was also spectacular goaltending. Sergei Bobrovsky (31 saves) was fantastic through two periods, but Petr Mrazek — making his second start since returning from injury — was even better.
Florida dented Mrazek early, with Barkov scoring on a rebound 11:09 into the game, and the Panthers captain scored again late in the second period to help them regain the lead. But after Carolina evened the game again, Mrazek locked it down.
First he stopped Mason Marchment on an odd-man rush, then one-upped that by stopping Noel Acciari twice on a breakaway to keep things even.
“That was the difference in the game, no question,” Brind’Amour said of Mrazek’s play. “Both goalies made some sick saves. It was crazy, but at the end Petr really — there was a stretch there where the game could have went sideways, and he held us in there.”
3. Carolina’s top-ranked power play had just one opportunity in each of its last four games, but on Tuesday it got four chances and scored twice. The Hurricanes also appeared to score right after another of the power plays expired, but a quick whistle by the referees led to the goal being waved off.
“We haven’t had too much power play lately (and) we haven’t scored in a few games either,” Aho said. “We want to show everyone that we still got it.”
The Hurricanes are now converting 29.8% of their power plays, 3.4% higher than second-place Edmonton and two times more efficient than the league’s bottom five power plays.
Number To Know
19 — The number of games the Panthers had gone without a regulation loss when leading after two periods before the Hurricanes rallied in the third period on Tuesday. Florida had been 18-0-1 when entering the final period with a lead.
They Said It
— Trocheck’s first response when asked to describe Staal in three words.
Vincent Trocheck, Hurricanes center — The Hurricanes would certainly like to earn the top spot in the Central Division and a date against one of Chicago, Dallas or Nashville, but Trocheck would probably welcome a series against his old team.
Trocheck’s second-period power play goal marked the fifth straight game he’s scored against his old team. He was also a net-front presence on Hamilton’s point shot on the power play that got past Bobrovsky 45 seconds into the third to make it 2-2. He was originally credited with the goal, but it was changed to Hamilton shortly after the game.
The Carolina center now has points in 11 straight games dating back to Feb. 27 — not officially a point streak because he missed time with injury, but impressive nonetheless.
“I don’t think there’s any secret,” Trocheck said while again denying he has any extra motivation against his old team. “It’s just luck of the draw, I guess. I’ve got some greasy ones against them this year.”
Warren Foegele and Nino Niederreiter, Hurricanes forwards — The two wingers, along with Staal, had the tough assignment of taking on the Barkov line, and the Florida captain had both of his goals against the trio.
But while Staal got his redemption with a big third period, his two wingers were left with the breakdowns on the two Panthers’ goals.