The return of several players from injury helped the Carolina Hurricanes win for just the second time in six games last time out. They'll try to make it two in a row on Saturday evening in the opener of a home-and-home set with the Florida Panthers.
Carolina got four players back into the lineup on Thursday against Pittsburgh and those fresh bodies, as well as a pair of scores from Jiri Tlusty during a three-goal second period, helped the Hurricanes to a 4-1 victory over the Penguins.
Tlusty also had an assist and scored his first goal of the game in the second period 1:46 before Jeff Skinner tallied to put the 'Canes up by two goals. Skinner had missed the previous five games with a concussion and has logged a point in 11 of his 14 games played this season.
Tlusty, meanwhile, recorded his fourth two-goal game of the season and has nine tallies on the year.
Eric Staal scored and notched a pair of helpers, while Cam Ward made 26 saves in the win, which head coach Kirk Muller noted featured a lot more energy from his club thanks to the return of four players.
In addition to Skinner, forward Tim Brent (lower body) and defensemen Tim Gleason (lower body) and Jamie McBain (upper body) were all back in Carolina's lineup.
"It was nice getting some healthy bodies back," said Muller. "But not only healthy, we were fresh. ... You could see the difference. It gave us a higher tempo and energy."
The Panthers try to find some energy on Saturday after losing for the eighth time in 10 games on Thursday. Though they tied the game with 1:26 to play in regulation on Brian Campbell's sixth goal of the campaign, the Buffalo Sabres scored twice in a shootout to hand Florida a 4-3 loss.
Jose Theodore stopped 15 shots through regulation and overtime after replacing of an ineffective Scott Clemmensen in the Florida crease late in the first period, but the veteran goalie netminder failed to make a save on two skaters in the shootout. Jonathan Huberdeau and Peter Mueller, meanwhile, missed on their breakaway chances for the Panthers.
"It's frustrating not to get the two points, but we know what our standards are and how we need to play," said Campbell.
Rookie Drew Shore and Marcel Goc added goals for Florida, which lost defenseman Mike Weaver to a lower body injury in the game and he did not return.
The Panthers have won six of their past seven versus the Hurricanes, including a season-opening 5-1 victory at home on Jan. 19. Campbell scored twice in the first of four scheduled meetings this season.
Florida has lost six of its past nine in Carolina and will host the 'Canes on Sunday.