Raleigh, NC -- Jordan Staal scored twice, Petr Mrazek made 34 saves, and the Carolina Hurricanes (26-9-3, 55pts) beat the Florida Panthers (26-10-4, 56pts) by a score of 5-2 on Tuesday night.
Vincent Trocheck, Dougie Hamilton, and Jesper Fast also scored for Carolina. Aleksander Barkov had both of Florida's goals.
In a matchup that could be a playoff preview, the Canes and Panthers lived up to expectations, playing another close game with speed, skill, and grit.
"That team there, Florida, they're high octane. They transition real well; [if] you make any little mistake in the o-zone, they're going the other way," Canes head coach Rod Brind'Amour said.
It was Florida who grabbed the lead first.
Aleksander Barkov beat Petr Mrazek with a backhanded shot for his 15th of the season.
The second period was a tactical draw, with neither team breaking through the neutral zone consistently. However, Carolina got on the board late in the period with a powerplay goal from Vincent Trocheck.
Florida answered back on the very next shift, with Barkov pounding home a one-timer to restore Florida's one-goal lead heading into the 2nd intermission.
The 3rd period opened with the Canes on the powerplay. Dougie Hamilton leveled the game with a point shot through traffic, which beat Bobrovsky.
Sebastian Aho, who registered three assists on the night, described the Canes' thought process at the start of the critical 3rd period.
"The mindset [going into the 3rd] was let's get some momentum, get some shots. Hopefully, we score on the powerplay and tie the game. And we did, which gave us lots of confidence and momentum, and we took off."
Ultimately, the game-winning goal in this back-and-forth affair was not one for the highlight reel. At 8:52, Jordan Staal fired a wrist shot that Bobrovsky (mostly) stopped. However, the puck trickled past the Russian, almost coming to a stop on the goal line.
In an attempt to clear the puck, Radko Gudas fired the puck off of a teammate. It deflected back into the goal, and the Canes had the lead for good.
Asked whether his goal was due to a particularly 'heavy shot', Jordan Staal laughed off the suggestion.
"I wouldn't say [I have a heavy shot]. I always ask [Svechnikov] to teach me how to shoot. I saw my big bro [Eric] do it the other night, coming down the wing, he had a quick wrister, and I tried to do the same thing...I had a good bounce there, and I'll take it."
Staal and Jesper Fast would later add empty-net goals in the game's final minutes, stretching the final margin to three.
After the game, Carolina head coach Rod Brind'Amour credited the win to Petr Mrazek's 34-save performance.
"[Petr Mrazek] was the difference in the game, no question. Both goalies made some sick saves...At the end, there was a stretch where the game could have gone sideways [for us], where Petr held us in there."
Warren Foegele, Andrei Svechnikov, and Vincent Trocheck each recorded one assist for the Canes.
Carter Verhaeghe had two assists for Florida. Mason Marchment and MacKenzie Weegar each recorded one assist for the Panthers.
Teuvo Teravainen (concussion), James Reimer (healthy), and Jake Gardiner (healthy) did not dress for the game.
Sergei Bobrovsky (15-6-2, .910 SV%, 2.80 GAA) made 31 saves on 34 shots faced. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Bobrovsky.
Carolina: The Hurricanes host the Panthers again on Thursday evening at 7:00 ET.
Florida: The Panthers remain in Raleigh and play the second game of a back-to-back on Thursday night at 7:00 ET.