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Ellis makes 27 saves, Panthers top Hurricanes 2-0

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Dan Ellis made 27 saves for his first shutout of the season, and Brandon Pirri scored in the second period to lead the Florida Panthers to a 2-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.

Dave Bolland added an empty-net goal for Florida, six points behind Boston and Washington for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers improved to 4-1-1 in their last six games.

It was the 15th career shutout for Ellis, who played in 19 games for Carolina in 2012-13 and went 6-8-3. He’s 3-0-1 with the Panthers this season.

Cam Ward stopped 21 shots for the Hurricanes.

Pirri scored on the only power play of the second at 16:20, with Jimmy Hayes on the assist. Bolland’s empty-netter on an assist from Derek MacKenzie came with 40 seconds to play.

Florida also won the previous meeting this season, 1-0 at home on Nov. 26.

The teams served coincidental minors twice during the second period. The first was 15 seconds in, when the Hurricanes’ Eric Staal was called for hooking and Florida’s Nick Bjugstad for embellishment. Then, at 4:24, Carolina’s Nathan Gerbe and the Panthers’ Steven Kampfer were called for roughing.

The Hurricanes pulled Ward with 3:12 left with a sixth attacker, but couldn’t score and fell to 30-8-4 all-time against the Panthers at PNC Arena.

NOTES: Carolina, playing for the final time this season in its black third jersey, was 8-4-0 in the uniform. … It was the finale of a five-game homestand (1-3-1) for Carolina, which plays at Columbus on Sunday. Florida visits the New York Rangers on Sunday. … Carolina D Jack Hillen (concussion) missed his fourth straight game, while D Ryan Murphy was out with illness. RW Patrick Dwyer was a healthy scratch. … Florida goalies Roberto Luongo (upper body) and Al Montoya (lower body) each missed a fourth straight game, while RW Tomas Kopecky was out with illness. LW Shawn Thornton and D Alex Petrovic were healthy scratches. … The final of three meetings between the teams is April 2 at Florida.

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