PANTHERS 2, HURRICANES 0: Jose Theodore turned aside 34 shots for his third shutout and host Florida held off Carolina.
Tomas Fleischmann scored the game-winning goal and Marcel Goc tallied an empty-netter to ensure that the Panthers maintained their one-point lead over Washington atop the Southeast Division.
Theodore improved to a perfect 4-0-0 against the Hurricanes this season in registering his 33rd career shutout.
Florida had an apparent goal by Jerred Smithson with three minutes to play overturned by video replay when it was ruled he kicked the puck into the net. Goc doubled the lead with 92 seconds left in regulation.
Fleischmann gave Theodore the only goal he needed at the 3:22 mark of the second period, beating Cam Ward with a snap shot for his 22nd goal. The tally tied Fleischmann with injured Kris Versteeg for the team lead in goals and points (49).
After getting outshot 14-5 in the opening period, the Hurricanes poured 29 shots on Theodore in the final 40 minutes but were unable to get the equalizer.
The Panthers won for just the second time in six games (2-3-1) this month despite scoring only eight goals in that stretch.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Ward was denied his 200th career victory. ... Carolina D Jaroslav Spacek left the game with a lower body injury and did not return. ... Sunday marked the latest date Florida has ever been in first place. The previous latest date was 12 years ago on March 10, 2000.