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Markstrom leads Panthers past 'Canes 4-1

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JOEDY McCREARY | March 19, 2013 09:59 PM EST | AP

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Tomas Fleischmann, Marcel Goc and Shawn Matthias scored 6:12 apart in the third period to lead the Florida Panthers past the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 on Tuesday night.

Jacob Markstrom stopped 33 shots while flirting with his first career shutout, and Filip Kuba had two assists.

The last-place Panthers scored the first three goals and held on to snap their six-game losing streak.

Markstrom was 2:33 from the shutout when Jordan Staal scored for Carolina.

Dan Ellis stopped 40 shots for the Hurricanes, who entered atop the Southeast Division but lost their fourth straight.

An untimely turnover by Bobby Sanguinetti – one of three Carolina defensemen who were injured in the first two periods – wound up turning into the game's first goal.

His misplay near Ellis sent the puck to Tomas Kopecky, who set up Fleischmann's wrister to make it 1-0 at 7:39.

Goc scored on a tip-in on a 5-on-3 power play at 12:47, and Matthias added a goal with the man advantage at 13:51.

Jerred Smithson added an empty-netter with 52.4 seconds left.

That was enough offense for the Panthers behind Markstrom, the second-year goalie who entered 1-5-1 this season with a goals-against average of 3.29.

He certainly found a groove against a Carolina offense that, until the final minutes, had sputtered. Since blowing a 2-0 lead in a 3-2 loss to division rival Washington on March 14, the Hurricanes have managed just three goals in their next three games.

Their power-play unit, the second-worst in the NHL, struggled against the Panthers' league-worst penalty-kill. Their frustration boiled over when Alexander Semin skated to the bench after his shift and whacked his stick on the boards.

That came during a critical 4-minute power play after Scottie Upshaw received a double-minor for high-sticking a bloodied Tim Gleason – one of those three injured Hurricanes defensemen.

Justin Faulk suffered an apparent right leg injury during a collision behind the boards with Jack Skille moments before Gleason was hurt and didn't return, while Sanguinetti appeared to take a skate to his face with 7:03 left in the first but was back for the second. Gleason returned for the final 2 minutes of the period.

Both teams certainly had plenty of chances early: Semin clicked a pass off the shaft of a Florida player's stick on its way across the crease, Kevin Westgarth rang the post, and Drayson Bowman had a breakaway yet couldn't get a shot off on Markstrom after the puck rolled off his stick.

The Panthers – who won for just the seventh time since beating Carolina in the opener – couldn't get anything past Ellis for two periods, either, despite peppering him with a handful shots in roughly a minute of the first. The Carolina goalie swatted away a slap shot from Erik Gudbranson as the horn sounded to end the second.

Notes: The teams split the season series 2-2. ... Carolina's record against the Panthers at PNC Arena is 28-7-4. ... Westgarth dropped LW Eric Selleck during a brief fight with 2:58 left. ... Before the game, the Panthers recalled C Quinton Howden from San Antonio of the AHL, then scratched him.

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Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at (at)JoedyAP.