SUNRISE, Fla. – Eric Staal scored his team-leading 12th goal and Martin Gerber stopped 26 shots Friday night as the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Florida Panthers 1-0 for their franchise-record ninth straight victory.

Gerber posted his second shutout of the season – both over Florida – and had to be perfect to outduel Roberto Luongo, his Florida counterpart. Luongo made 34 saves but it wasn’t enough to keep the Panthers from losing their seventh consecutive game.

Gerber stopped 27 shots last Saturday in Carolina’s 2-0 win against the Panthers.

Carolina got the only goal when Staal connected on the power play with 2:44 left in the second period. Erik Cole passed from behind the net to Staal just outside the crease. Staal flipped the puck over a prone Luongo into the right corner of the net.

The Panthers best chance to tie it came at 15:59 of the third period. Niklas Hagman got the puck directly in front of the crease and took a shot, but Gerber made a pad save and fell on the rebound.

Cole, who on Wednesday became the first NHL player awarded two penalty shots in a game, was given another attempt at 14:36 of the first period after he was being pulled down from behind on a breakaway by Mike Van Ryn.

His penalty-shot attempt went high and wide to the left of Luongo.

Notes: Cole, who went 1-for-2 on penalty shots against Buffalo, joined Esa Pirnes of the Los Angeles Kings (Oct. 10-12, 2003) as the only players to take penalty shots in consecutive games. … Florida’s Anthony Stewart left the game with a wrist injury and didn’t return. … Panthers defenseman Branislav Mezei will miss the rest of the season with torn ligaments in his knee. Mezei was injured Wednesday against the New York Rangers.

AP-ES-11-11-05 2226EST

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