RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Sebastian Aho scored with 18.9 seconds left, helping Pyotr Kochetkov and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Florida Panthers 1-0 on Thursday night.

Kochetkov stopped 44 shots in his third shutout of the season. Carolina has won four straight and six of its past seven games.

Florida had won 11 straight road games, one short of tying the NHL record.

It was a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final, and it felt like a playoff game in February. Both playoff games in Raleigh in May went into extra time, including a four-overtime marathon in Game 1.

“It felt really like we were almost right back at it the way it was (in the playoffs),” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said.

Aho lifted Carolina to the win when he beat Sergei Bobrovsky after a shot attempt by Andrei Svechnikov was blocked before it could get to the net.

Aho had a prime scoring opportunity with 3:46 left in regulation but couldn’t control a tip-in chance in front. Aho said he “missed an empty-netter.”

Florida followed Aho’s initial miss with what was originally ruled a goal for Eetu Luostarinen with 3:19 left. But the Panthers were ruled offside after a successful challenge by Brind’Amour.

“I got another chance and was able to put that in,” Aho said of his team-leading 21st goal of the season.

It was the goalies who did the heavy lifting. Kochetkov’s glove save on Evan Rodrigues on a 2-on-1 rush just 3:30 into the third period was one of many highlights for the Carolina goalie.

“One goal is all we got,” Brind’Amour said. “We needed (Kochetkov) to be perfect and he was.”

Bobrovsky, the star of the Panthers’ playoff sweep of Carolina, was equally spectacular. He also got some help from the cage. Jordan Martinook had a shot go off the left post in the first period, and Tony D’Angelo had one in the second.

For Kochetkov, a 24-year-old Russian, there was extra meaning to outdueling his 35-year-old countryman. Bobrovsky finished with 28 saves.

“He’s an unbelievable goalie and unbelievable man,” Kochetkov said. “For me, it’s a little bit of a special day and a special game.”

The Panthers played the final two periods without forward Matthew Tkachuk and defenseman Gustav Forsling.


Panthers: Host Washington on Saturday.

Hurricanes: Host Dallas on Saturday.


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