RALEIGH — Eric Staal was angry, antsy, eager to play, ready to play.
Staal, the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes, did not like the way he or his team performed Friday against the Florida Panthers. A 7-4 road loss to the Panthers stung badly.
But Staal and the Canes answered with a 3-2 win Saturday over the Panthers at the RBC Center as Staal scored twice, rookie Jeff Skinner had a goal and assist, and everyone in a black Carolina sweater contributed to what coach Paul Maurice called the best defensive effort of the season.
"It was a better effort from everybody, including myself," Staal said. "I was not happy with the way I played [Friday].
"There wasn't a very good feeling in the locker room after the game, and there wasn't a very good feeling on the flight home. I think for the most part everyone today didn't have a good feeling about [Friday] night. So we wanted to respond the right way, and we did."
Staal's second goal, a wrister at 11:41 of the third period that fooled goalie Scott Clemmensen, proved to be the winner. It gave the Canes (7-7-0) a 3-1 lead and was Staal's 199th career goal, pushing him past Jeff O'Neill into fourth place in franchise history.
But the Panthers (5-7-0) pulled Clemmensen with 2:22 to play in the third. With an extra attacker, they scored with 42.2 seconds left on a sharp-angle shot by Michael Frolik that surprised Canes goaltender Cam Ward.
But the Canes had played too hard for too long to allow a last-gasp comeback.
"It was two completely different games," Canes forward Erik Cole said. "We played a much grittier brand of hockey and a better brand of hockey."
The Panthers unloaded 50 shots on the Canes on Friday at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla. They managed 20 on Saturday, just four in the first period and nine in the first two periods.
Cole set up Skinner's goal early in the third, powering his way down the right wing with the puck and then circling behind the net. His centering pass found Skinner, who beat defenseman Mike Weaver for position in front of the net.
Skinner's goal, at 2:21 of the period, pushed the Canes' lead to 2-0. But the Panthers made it 2-1 exactly a minute later when Darcy Hordichuk scored his first of the season, chopping the puck past Ward.
One night after combining for 31 shots and six goals in the first period, the two teams were scoreless in the first. But Staal's first goal, on a 5-on-3 at 7:51 of the second, broke the ice.
Staal, who had a minus-3 game at Florida with just one shot on goal, scored on a slapshot from the slot, falling to his knees on the follow-through.
The Canes had first gained some steam from an aggressive penalty kill as Brandon Sutter hustled his way to a short-handed attempt. Moments after the penalty expired, Canes defenseman Brett Carson flattened the Panthers' Radek Dvorak with a hard hit along the boards, only to be hit from behind by Hordichuk.
Hordichuk picked up an interference penalty at 6:09 of the second, and Mike Santorelli was called for hooking 13 seconds later. The Canes failed on a 5-on-3 in the third period of Friday's game, but Maurice put five forwards on the ice and got the goal from Staal with 18 seconds remaining in the two-man advantage.
But this game was won with defense. The Canes changed up defensive pairs, teaming Tim Gleason with Jamie McBain and Joe Corvo with Jay Harrison. They blocked 19 shots in all, four by Harrison.
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