SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -This time, the shot-happy Florida Panthers were right on target.
Two nights after losing to Atlanta despite a franchise-record 55 shots, the Panthers took advantage of their 50 shots against Carolina in a 7-4 victory Friday night in the first of a home-and-home set.
``We played a lot in their end,' said Chris Higgins, who broke a tie late in the second period with his third goal of the season and finished with eight shots. ``We certainly put up a lot of shots and they went in for us tonight.'
The 105 shots are the highest two-game total in Panthers history, and they also recorded back-to-back games with 50 or more shots for the first time.
``I can't explain it,' coach Pete DeBoer said. ``Guys are working hard offensively. They're working hard on the forecheck, being a tenacious team to play against and we're getting rewarded for that and we have to keep that up.'
Stephen Weiss added two goals, including an empty-netter that was the Panthers' 50th shot, had an assist and finished with a game-high nine shots on goal.
David Booth, Mike Santorelli, Marty Reasoner and Michael Frolik also scored for Florida, and defenseman Bryan Allen had a career-high three assists.
Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun was pulled only 10:49 into the first period after giving up two goals. Scott Clemmensen replaced him and ended up with 23 saves.
``Funny game, you know,' Clemmensen said. ``A lot of funny bounces, scoring chances both ways. It's not much fun being a goalie in those type of games.'
Erik Cole, Tim Gleason, Tuomo Ruutu and Sergei Samsonov scored for Carolina, and Cam Ward stopped 43 shots.
``It wasn't a particularly well-played hockey game from either team's point of view,' Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. ``But they were better than we were.'
The teams will meet again Saturday night in Carolina.
Down 5-4 in the third period, Carolina had a great opportunity when the Panthers were called for two minor penalties at the same time.
But Florida held Carolina without a shot on the power play until Reasoner drew a holding penalty with 21 seconds left in the two-man advantage.
``Obviously it was a key point in the game where we had to buckle down,' Reasoner said. ``I think we did a good job of trying to take away what they were trying to do.'
The failed 5-of-3 was part of an 0-for-7 night for Carolina's power play.
``We were fortunate to have a chance to take control of the game with a 5-on-3 late in the third and our power play let us down there,' Cole said. ``That's the way it goes, you can't take nights off in this league and expect to be successful.'
Higgins made it 4-3 with 3:17 left in the second period when he took a centering pass from Dvorak and beat Ward to the stick side with a wrist shot that bounced off the post.
Reasoner increased the lead to 5-3 at 2:26 of the third when he one- timed Dvorak's pass from behind the net. Samsonov closed the gap to one at 4:47 when he tipped in Jay Harrison's shot from the point.
Frolik restored Florida's two-goal lead at 17:13.
The teams were tied 3-3 after a wild first period.
After Gleason's goal chased Vokoun, Florida's Weiss and Santorelli scored to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead. Ruutu scored 7 seconds after Santorelli to make it 3-3.
``It was definitely not an easy game behind the bench,' DeBoer said. ``It seemed like about four games in one, but we got through it with the right result.'
NOTES: Florida F Cory Stillman left the game in the first period because of an upper-body injury and did not return. ... Florida D Keaton Ellerby was recalled from Rochester to replace Jason Garrison, who missed the game because of a groin injury. ... The home team won every meeting between the Panthers and Hurricanes last season. ... Carolina F Jeff Skinner, who came in leading all NHL rookies with 10 points, was held without a point. ... Florida established a franchise first by playing its 11th game to start the season without going to overtime. The Panthers went the first 10 without an overtime game during the 1995-96 season.
The Associated Press News Service
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