Hurricanes jump all over Panthers
Tom Kostopoulos and Jussi Jokinen scored first-period goals off turnovers in Florida's end to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Panthers 7-2 on Friday night.
Tuomo Ruutu also scored in the opening period for the Hurricanes, who dominated early and then cruised to a second straight victory against a Southeast Division rival. Carolina beat Tampa Bay in a shootout for its first win Tuesday night.
Ray Whitney, Matt Cullen, Rod Brind'Amour and Jay Harrison also scored for Carolina. Shawn Matthias and Michael Frolik scored for Florida, though those goals came long after Carolina had taken control.
Cam Ward finished with 25 saves, though he didn't face much pressure early. Instead, Carolina controlled play and took a 16-5 edge in shots in those first 20 minutes to keep the pressure on Tomas Vokoun before ultimately chasing him from the game and finishing with 33 shots. Not to mention that the Panthers - playing for the first time since traveling to Finland and splitting a two-game set with Chicago last week - helped out with a couple of miscues that Carolina quickly converted into momentum-seizing goals.
First, with Florida on a power play, Kostopoulos reached out with his left arm as he skated by Florida captain Bryan McCabe and poked the puck loose between the circles. Kostopoulos quickly corralled the puck then pushed it under Vokoun from just outside the crease at the 7-minute mark for his first goal with the Hurricanes.
Ruutu got free for a breakaway chance a few minutes later, taking a pass from Sergei Samsonov and charging in from center ice to beat Vokoun for the 2-0 lead midway through the period.
Then came Florida's second big gaffe, this time with Vokoun and Dmitry Kulikov botching a handoff from behind the net. Jokinen was in the area, jumped on the loose puck and pushed it inside the near post for a three-goal lead.
That would be more than enough help for Ward, who followed Tuesday's 29-save effort with another steady performance in net.
NOTES: Julie Walker, the wife of Carolina winger Scott Walker, sounded the siren that precedes the Hurricanes' entrance onto the ice. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer during last season's playoff run, but has responded to treatments and is healthy. ... Ruutu played in his 100th game with the Hurricanes.