Hurricanes stop Panthers 4-2 as defensemen power the offense

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Carolina’s high-scoring defensemen made a big impact again as Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce scored to help the Hurricanes beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 on Saturday night.

Hamilton also assisted on Martin Necas’ goal, Andrei Svechnikov added an empty-netter and Petr Mrazek stopped 21 shots for the Hurricanes (14-8-1), who won for the fifth time in six games.

Aaron Ekblad and Brian Boyle scored for Florida (12-6-5), which had won three straight.

The Hurricanes encourage their defensemen to contribute on offense as much as any team in the NHL, and it paid off Saturday night. Carolina, which entered leading the NHL with 18 goals by defensemen, got two more as Pesce delivered the Hurricanes’ first score of the game and Hamilton broke a 2-all tie off a feed from Teuvo Teravainen with 2:15 remaining in the second period.

Hamilton, who led NHL defensemen with nine goals this season prior to Saturday, has at least one point in 18 of Carolina’s 23 games.

Florida took advantage of a pair of defensive lapses by Carolina’s fourth line for goals 18 seconds apart in the first period. Ekblad skated in unchecked from the point to lift a backhand past Mrazek 8:36 in, and Boyle made it 2-0 when he slipped behind the defense for a goal off a feed from Colton Sceviour.

Carolina tied it at 2 before the first intermission with goals by Pesce and Necas off cross-ice feeds that originated from the blue line to the left of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

NOTES: Svechnikov (seven games) and Joel Edmundson (six games) each extended career-long point streaks with assists for the Hurricanes. … Ekblad had two goals and an assist Thursday, including the overtime winner against Anaheim. … Florida did not commit a penalty for the first 52 minutes, but was called for two minors in the final 7:12 while trying to rally. … Carolina wore purple jerseys for Hockey Fights Cancer night.


Panthers: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, their fifth home game in six outings.

Hurricanes: Visit the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

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