Rookie defenseman Uvis Balinskis scored his first NHL goal, leading the host Florida Panthers to a 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night in Sunrise.
It was the teams’ first meeting since the Panthers swept the Hurricanes in last season’s Eastern Conference finals.
Balinskis, a native of Latvia playing his 11th game, helped the Panthers win their third straight with his first career point.
Matthew Tkachuk, Carter Verhaeghe and Aleksander Barkov had one goal and one assist each for the Panthers. Kevin Stenlund also scored, Sam Reinhart added two assists and Sergei Bobrovsky came up with 28 saves.
Carolina, which had its two-game win streak snapped, got one goal each from Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Sebastian Aho. Antti Raanta made 30 saves and Jordan Martinhook added two assists.
The Hurricanes opened the scoring just 80 seconds in as Bobrovsky stopped shots by Martinhook and Jesper Fast before Kotkaniemi scored on a rebound.
Florida tied it less than two minutes later. Anton Lundell started the sequence by winning a battle for the puck. Verhaeghe then fed Tkachuk, who stickhandled past Raanta for an impressive goal.
Tkachuk helped give the Panthers the lead for good as his perfect pass led to Balinskis’ goal from the doorstep with 1:07 left in the first period.
The teams traded second-period goals.
Barkov scored on a rebound off a shot by Evan Rodrigues at 7:08.
Late in the period, Carolina cut its deficit to 3-2 on Aho’s rebound goal, with Martinhook and Brady Skjei picking up the assists.
The Panthers scored a key goal with 6:42 left in the third to extend their lead to 4-2. After winning a faceoff, Gustav Forsling’s shot from the point was deflected in by Verhaeghe.
Stenlund put the game away with an empty-net goal with 3:42 left.
–Field Level Media
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