Series (Game 5 of 5)

Florida leads 4-1

Game 1: Wednesday, December 4th
Game 2: Friday, December 6th
Game 3: Friday, January 24th
Game 4: Saturday, January 25th
Game 5: Friday, April 4th

Hurricanes 1

(22-42-6, 61 pts)

Panthers 4

(24-35-9, 70 pts)

7:30 PM ET, April 4, 2003

BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida

1 2 3 T
CAR 0 1 01
FLA 3 0 14

N. Hagman (Panthers - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

R. Luongo (Panthers - G): Saves: 34, Save Pct.: .971

I. Majesky (Panthers - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Victory ends Florida's 13-game home winless streak

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- Roberto Luongo gave himself a birthday present, and the Florida Panthers a victory.

Roberto Luongo
Florida Panthers
64 19 34 7 .918 2.74

Luongo made 34 saves on his 24th birthday and the Panthers snapped a seven-game winless streak with a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.

''Louis was outstanding the whole game,'' said center Olli Jokinen, who scored a third-period goal for Florida. ''They had a lot of chances in the first period. Louie was making saves the whole 60 minutes. That was a good birthday present for him.''

The victory ended the Panthers' franchise-record 13-game home winless streak. Florida hadn't won at home since beating Carolina 3-2 in overtime on Jan. 25.

''I'm happy for the players,'' Florida coach Mike Keenan said. ''It's been weighing on them for a long time. I'm happy that they were able to at least extinguish part of something that they've had to deal with for a couple of months now.''

Niklas Hagman, Denis Shvidki and Ivan Majesky scored in the first period to give Florida a 3-0 lead.

The Panthers didn't score more than one goal in any game during their seven-game winless streak.

''We don't want to carry the monkey on our back the whole summer,'' Hagman said. ''It was more of a relief for us than overwhelming celebration.''

Defenseman Sean Hill scored the lone goal for Carolina, which is winless in its past 10 games (0-8-2). The Hurricanes entered the game already assured of finishing with the worst record in the NHL.

''We wanted to find a way to win because the wins haven't been there,'' said center Kevyn Adams, who played for the Panthers before being traded to Carolina in January of 2002. ''You have to find a way to play hard, and at times we did that. You just can't give up four goals like that and Grade A chances like we did.''

Arturs Irbe, making his third start since being recalled from the minors March 19, made 22 saves for the Hurricanes.

Carolina had two goals disallowed in the first period, first when Ryan Bayda made contact with the puck above the crossbar and then when the whistle blew just as Tomas Kurka was firing a rebound past Luongo.

''It seemed like it was loose the whole time,'' Adams said. ''There's nothing we can do about that. You have to make your own breaks.''

Hill got Carolina on the board 25 seconds into the second period when his wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle found its way between Luongo's legs.

Hagman opened the scoring with 7:56 left in the first when he got the puck facing the boards, spun toward the net and beat Irbe with a wrist shot to the short side.

Shvidki made it 2-0 just more than a minute later when he put a rebound past Irbe.

The lead grew to 3-0 with 2:59 left in the period when Majesky pounced on a rebound after Irbe stopped Viktor Kozlov's slap shot on a three-on-two.

''It's the same thing we've been struggling with lately,'' Hill said. ''We're not that talented a team, especially with the injuries we've had, that we can battle back from a three-goal deficit.''

Game notes

The Office Depot Center was evacuated briefly about 20 minutes before the game because of a false alarm. ''It was a faulty sensor that caused the alarm. We're sorry for the inconvenience it caused the fans,'' Panthers spokesman Randy Sieminski said. ''Luckily we were able to identify it quickly.'' ... All fans received a ''Salute the Troops'' cheer card, as the Panthers honored members of the U.S. Armed Forces fighting overseas. ... Carolina defenseman Bruno St. Jacques and Shvidki both were injured when they collided in the neutral zone late in the first period. Shvidki hurt his knee and didn't return, while St. Jacques only missed the last three minutes of the first period. ... Florida left wing Peter Worrell returned after missing eight games because of a knee injury. ... Adams returned after missing five games because of an abdomen injury.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press