SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Sebastian Aho scored two short-handed goals and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 on Thursday night.
Nino Niederreiter and Jordan Martinook also scored, Alex Nedeljkovic made 30 saves, and Martin Necas had three assists. The Hurricanes have won six consecutive games against the Panthers this season (6-0-1).
Aleksander Barkov scored twice for Florida, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 25 shots. The Panthers lost for the first time at home in eight games.
The teams will finish the two-game set Saturday.
“We’re thrilled,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We played our butts off. Had to kill penalties. We had guys log 800 minutes and block shots. That’s how you got to win. That was a great effort. Great saves. Everything.”
Trailing 3-2, the Panthers were on a 6-on-4 power play in the final minute, but Aho’s empty-net goal made it 4-2 with 15.2 left.
“The way we’re looking at it, every game is huge,” Aho said. “They’re the same two points available every night. But, yeah, obviously it’s tight standings in our division. Big win for us.”
The Panthers were 1-for-9 on the power-play.
“It was a tough night for our power play,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “They (Carolina) are good at it. We have to be better and more resilient to be effective at it. You’ve got to play a perfect game against them.”
Barkov’s second goal came during a 5-on-3 power play. Barkov’s shot from the slot beat Nedeljkovic with 7:58 left in the third to cut it to 3-2.
“Coming here, I had the same questions as the other (six) games, same type of games almost all of them, same type of finish,” Barkov said. “They end the same way. A tight game and they find a way to win those games.”
Aho scored his first short-handed goal to stretch the Hurricanes’ lead to 3-1. The Panthers turned the puck over at their blue line and Carolina got behind the defense and took advantage of a two-on-none, passing back and forth between Necas and Aho as the skated in. Aho put the puck into an open net with 1:52 left in the second.
Niederreiter’s power-play goal gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead with 8:51 left in the second.
Barkov gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead when his shot from the right circle bounced off the post and crossed the goal line at 6:22 of the first.
Martinook tied it 14 seconds into the second when he poked in a rebound from in front that bounced off the skate of a defenseman and into the net.
Florida’s Keith Yandle played his 914th consecutive NHL game, tying Garry Unger for second-most consecutive NHL history.
The Panthers cap attendance at 25% of capacity. 4,683 were at Thursday’s game.