RALEIGH, N.C. Rod Brind’Amour and Niclas Wallin scored third-period goals to lead the Carolina Hurricanes past the Florida Panthers 2-0, extending the best start in franchise history.

Eric Staal added an assist to extend his scoring streak to eight games for the Hurricanes, who improved to 7-0 at home and extended the franchise record for consecutive home wins. Martin Gerber finished with 27 saves to earn his second shutout this season.

Carolina improved to 10-2-1 with its seventh straight win, and earned a point for the 10th straight game. The Hurricanes have outscored opponents 24-8 in the final period this season.

Roberto Luongo also had 27 saves, but his Florida teammates couldn’t beat Gerber to give him some room for error.

The Panthers closed a six-game road trip created by Hurricane Wilma last month, which forced the postponement of their Oct. 29 home game against Washington. Florida opened the trip with a 4-3 overtime win at Pittsburgh on Oct. 25, but had gone 0-2-2 in the four games since.

The teams battled through two scoreless periods, with neither finding a way to beat the opposing netminder until Brind’Amour broke through with the Hurricanes on a power play midway through the third.

Brind’Amour sent a pass from the right side to Oleg Tverdovsky, who sent the puck back to the Hurricanes captain. Brind’Amour slapped the puck past Luongo, who was partially shielded by a tussle in front of the crease, for the 1-0 lead at 11:29 of the period.

A few minutes later, Carolina added an insurance goal. Staal and Erik Cole couldn’t score on a 2-on-1 opportunity a few minutes later, but Staal pulled the puck out and sent it cross-ice to Wallin for a goal from the left side at 14:35.

The Hurricanes went on the offensive from the start, sending plenty of pucks at Luongo and hoping to reverse their trend of having to rally from early deficits. But Luongo was up to the challenge, stopping Ray Whitney on a breakaway opportunity and holding Carolina scoreless in the first period despite the Hurricanes taking a 13-3 shot advantage and getting two power plays.

Notes: Carolina has not lost in regulation since a 3-2 loss at the New York Islanders on Oct. 8. … Staal has 26 points on 11 goals and 15 assists. … Florida defenseman Sean Hill and left wing Martin Gelinas are both former Hurricanes players. … The Panthers will play their first home game in two weeks Wednesday night against the New York Rangers.

AP-ES-11-05-05 2141EST


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