Richard Zednik scored the go-ahead goal and the Panthers scored four times in the final period to beat the Hurricanes 4-2 on Wednesday night.
Trailing 1-0 coming into the final period, the Panthers scored three goals in a 5:12 stretch. It started when Florida tied it at 2 with 5:49 remaining on Jay Bouwmeester's first goal of the season. Bouwmeester's shot from the top of the left circle got past Ward.
Zednik's goal came during a 5-on-3 power play. He took a pass from Olli Jokinen between the circles and skated in on goalie Cam Ward. Zednik's shot beat Ward on the stick side with 2:19 to go and gave Florida a 3-2 lead.
"That's a huge advantage, a 5-on-3," Zednik said. "That's the opportunity, especially late in the game. You have to score."
Nathan Horton added a power-play goal with 37 seconds to go.
Jokinen also scored for the Panthers, and Jokinen also had two assists.
Tomas Vokoun had 28 saves for Florida, which won for the first time in three games and snapped a seven-game losing streak to Carolina, dating to last season.
Erik Cole and Ray Whitney had goals for Carolina and Ward stopped 28 shots. The Hurricanes took seven of their eight penalties in the third period. Two of the penalties were for diving. The Panthers accused the Hurricanes of diving throughout last season and the topic had lots of play in the local papers leading up to their first game against them this season.
A crucial call was a diving penalty on Justin Williams at 13:13 when he was tackled by Horton. Instead of a Carolina power play, it was four-on-four and then Bouwmeester scored his game-tying goal.
"I've never been known as a diver and I think video is conclusive enough," Williams said. "That's a tough way to lose a game, real tough. I had my legs taken out but apparently someone saw it the other way."
Horton grabbed Williams from behind and pulled him down but both players headed to the penalty box.
"I'm at a loss for words," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "That's the power of the print. I don't know what to say ... it started the whole unraveling. I have no idea why there was a diving penalty. I'd like to get an explanation."
Referee Brad Watson made both of the diving calls.
"Those are the kind of calls you get when you're at home and it's Halloween," Cole said.
Florida tied it at 1 on a power play at 7:27 of the third. Stephen Weiss shoved the puck from the right circle to the center. Jokinen grabbed control of the puck and his slap shot went just under the crossbar over Ward's left shoulder.
"Three power play goals were the key," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. "A lot of times last year we were at the other end of specialty teams. Tonight it paid off for us."
The Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead on Cole's goal at 11:35 of the third. The puck bounced off the end boards and Eric Staal passed from the left circle to Cole, who was at the right corner of the crease. Vokoun had come out to the left side and left the net open. Cole had an easy shot behind Vokoun.
Carolina took a 1-0 lead at 4:07 of the second. Cole passed from the top of the right circle to Whitney in front. Whitney pushed the puck past Vokoun's blocker on the glove side and into the corner of the net.
The Panthers appeared to have tied the score about a minute later, but Jozef Stumpel's shot was disallowed when it was ruled it was a high-stick.
- Wednesday's game was Panthers coach Jacques Martin's 1,028th NHL game behind the bench, tying him with Brian Sutter for eighth place on the career list.
- Carolina defenseman Niclas Wallin returned after missing two games because of a groin injury.