Luongo records 70th career SO; Panthers beat Hurricanes

Roberto Luongo got the shutout and Willie Mitchell scored the game-winner to get the Panthers a 2-0 win over the Hurricanes.

Willie Mitchell managed a rare feat the same night Roberto Luongo was his usual, dominant self.

Mitchell put Florida ahead 4:09 into the third period with his first goal this season, Luongo got his 70th career shutout and the Panthers beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 for their third straight win.

Luongo made 24 saves for his second shutout this season.

“There wasn’t much offence the first two periods and both goalies had to make big saves,” Florida coach Gerard Gallant said. “(Luongo) was big for us tonight. Big Willie got his first on a great play. It was a real nice goal and a timely goal.

“There wasn’t much in the tank. We just told our guys to get pucks behind their D and hope for a good bounce.”

Mitchell scored on a slap shot to put Florida up 1-0. He beat goalie Cam Ward to the glove side, and Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov picked up assists. It was just the 34th goal for Mitchell in 894 games, and his first since April 2.

“I should have had two or three by now,” Mitchell said. “I just kind of funneled to the backside and Hubie made a great pass like he always does. It was right on the stick. I only score three to five a year because I don’t play power play. It felt good to get a game-winner on it, too. If you don’t score many, you want to score big ones.”

Reilly Smith added an empty-net goal with 21 seconds left. Smith has scored in four straight games.

The Panthers have outscored opponents 12-2 during their three-game streak and have beaten Carolina five straight times, including 4-1 in the teams’ first meeting Oct. 13.

“There weren’t a lot of scoring chances,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. “I know when we reviewed them after the first and the second, it didn’t take long. I thought both teams checked and they capitalized on a little turnover. There wasn’t any free ice to get going and windup, and we didn’t forecheck well.”

Florida has won eight of its last 10 road games.

Carolina fell to 4-2-1 over its last seven games. Ward made 16 saves.

Florida’s Corban Knight was called for hooking about 2 minutes after Mitchell’s score. Carolina put three shots on goal during the man advantage but could not beat Luongo.

“I’ve been in the league 20 years, so I don’t think about numbers a lot,” Luongo said. “Right now we’re just focusing on wins, and we see how crazy the standings are. We’re just trying to accumulate some points.”

Jaromir Jagr did not have a point and is still tied for fourth with Marcel Dionne on the NHL goals list with 731. He had one shot on goal.

NOTES: Florida C Derek MacKenzie (lower body) missed his third straight game, and LW Shawn Thornton was a healthy scratch. … Hurricanes C Riley Nash was a healthy scratch. … Florida LW Jussi Jokinen was a Hurricane from 2008-13. … Hurricanes RW Kris Versteeg was a Panther from 2011-14. … The teams will meet for the final time this season on April 9 at Florida. … The Hurricanes visit Pittsburgh on Saturday night before returning home Monday night against Washington. … Florida returns home Sunday against Vancouver for the first of six straight home games.

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