Carolina goalie Dan Ellis didn't start Sunday against Florida because he wasn't feeling well. He ended up playing, and didn't feel any better after the game despite helping the Hurricanes earn a 3-2 victory over the Panthers.
Ellis made 19 saves for Carolina after replacing Cam Ward with 11:04 left in the second. Ward stopped all 15 shots he faced before leaving the game with what appeared to be a leg injury.
"Just wasn't feeling well. Some type of flu or whatever it was, but in the end that ended up costing us our goalie," Ellis said. "It kind of sucks to lose such a good goaltender, such a big piece to our team, and such a good person. But at least we got the win."
Initially, Ward was knocked down when Hurricanes defenseman Joe Corvo slid into him and dislodged the net after fighting off Florida's Jack Skille. After the next faceoff, Ward went down and limped off the ice. The extent of his injury wasn't known immediately after the game.
"He'll probably get evaluated tomorrow ... more results," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "Hopefully, he gets back soon because he was playing good hockey."
Ellis took some responsibility for what happened.
"If I maybe would have just found a way to play through it, maybe it could have prevented an accident like that," he said.
Jordan Staal, Alexander Semin, and Justin Faulk scored goals, giving the Hurricanes their second victory over the Panthers in as many nights.
"It was a big weekend. A lot of guys chipped in to help us win this one," Staal said.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored two goals for Florida. Scott Clemmensen stopped 21 shots for the Panthers.
The Hurricanes won for the fourth time in five games. Florida has lost 10 of its last 12 games.
"We played a good first 18 minutes and I don't think we finished it off," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "Obviously, it's not enough right now and I don't think it's a boost of confidence that nothing but a good solid win is going to provide. We're obviously still in search of that."
Trailing 3-1, Huberdeau's second goal came at 19:05 of the third. He took a cross-ice pass from Peter Mueller and beat Ellis for his team-leading 10th goal of the season.
Carolina went ahead 3-0 on Staal's goal at 6:10 of the second. Jeff Skinner brought the puck from behind the net and passed to Staal in front. His shot trickled under Clemmensen's pad and into the net.
The Panthers made it 3-1 when Mueller made a nice cross-ice pass to Huberdeau as he skated in on Ellis. His shot beat Ellis on the stick side at 16:05 of the second.
The Hurricanes scored a pair of goals in the last two minutes of the first period to build a 2-0 lead.
Faulk gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead when he rifled a shot from above the right circle that hit the far post and went in at 18:08. Semin's goal, a wrist shot from in front, came exactly one minute later.
For the Panthers, the frustration of not winning is starting to wear on the team.
"We've got to get our job done and we're not getting it done," Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell said. "It's not acceptable. This is not going to be a fun place to be if you're not winning."
Florida goaltender coach Robb Tallas suited-up for Sunday's game and was on the bench for most of the first period as the backup goaltender. Jacob Markstrom was recalled from San Antonio in the AHL for Sunday's game, but his gear was late in arriving so Tallas, 39, was signed to a one-day contact in case Markstrom couldn't play. Markstrom replaced Tallas on the bench with 3:44 left in the first.
Tallas played in the NHL for 13 years and appeared in 99 NHL games with the Boston Bruins (1995-2000) and the Chicago Blackhawks (2000-01).