SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Spencer Knight made 40 saves in his first shutout of the season and the third of his career, leading the Florida Panthers to a 3-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night.
Nick Cousins, Aleksander Barkov and Sam Bennett scored for Florida, which handed Carolina its second straight loss following a four-game winning streak.
The Panthers, opening a their five-game homestand with the victory, are 5-0 this season at home. They have won two in a row.
The game was played as Broward County was under a hurricane watch due to the approaching Hurricane Nicole.
Cousins gave Florida its lead at 9:21 of the first period. With the 21-year-old Knight (5-1-0) stopping every shot he faced, Cousin’s goal proved to be enough.
“I thought he got stronger as the game went on and he was required to be,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said of Knight. “That’s a good sign for any goaltender, (especially) a young man to be able to build his game like that.’’
Barkov, the Panthers’ captain, gave Florida a cushion when he scored on a give-and-go from Carter Verhaeghe on the team’s fourth power-play opportunity midway through the third.
Bennett scored into an empty net in the final seconds.
“Most of the time, we played exactly the way we wanted,” Barkov said. “I think it helps us knowing this team is going to push the whole game. We had to be on our toes for the whole 60 minutes. We had a good goalie in the net, played good defensively and had some offense. I thought it was pretty solid.”
Carolina goalie Antti Raanta (3-1-1) made 33 saves in the loss.
The Hurricanes were 0-3 on the power play with majority of their time coming in the third period while down a goal. Carolina’s first chance with the man advantage came on a Brandon Montour penalty with 24.5 seconds remaining in the second period.
“Their goalie made some good saves and it was a tough game,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I did not like our first period, we got behind and slowly kind of got back into it. We had plenty of opportunity, but it has been tough sledding when it comes to scoring. We have one goal in two games and that was off the back of a goalie. It magnifies everything when you’re not scoring. I didn’t love the game. We had too many guys who were not a factor.”
Eric Staal played his first NHL game in a 3-1 loss to the Panthers in Sunrise on Oct. 9, 2003.
Wednesday marked his 1,300th regular-season game, and Staal — now a member of the Panthers — was able to celebrate the milestone on the ice with two of his brothers: Florida defenseman Marc, and Carolina captain Jordan.
“There’s a sense of good hockey karma here,” said Maurice, who was Eric’s first NHL coach with the Hurricanes. “They deserve that.”
Eric Staal is the 54th player to reach 1,300 games in NHL history and is the active leader in games played.
The Panthers will have forward Matthew Tkachuk back on Saturday after he served the last of his two-game suspension on Wednesday. The Panthers are also expected to activate defenseman Aaron Ekblad from long-term injured reserve in time for their next game. … Carolina had center Paul Stastny and defenseman Calvin de Haan as healthy scratches, with goalie Frederik Anderson out after leaving practice early Tuesday with an undisclosed injury. Florida scratched defenseman Lucas Carlsson and forward Patric Hornqvist missed his third consecutive game with an upper-body injury.
Hurricanes: Host Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
Panthers: Host Edmonton Oilers on Saturday afternoon.