for this game

Panthers end futility vs. Thrashers

Dec 28, 2007 - 4:08 AM
By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) - Tomas Vokoun and the Florida Panthers finally won a game at Philips Arena.

Vokoun set aside 38 shots and Nathan Horton scored twice to help the Panthers snap an 11-game losing streak in Atlanta and lead Florida to a 5-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday.

Radek Dvorak also scored and defensemen Ruslan Salei and Jay Bouwmeester added tallies for Florida, which had not won in Atlanta since October 23, 2003.

"We hadn't won here for I don't know how long," Horton said. "That's why it was so good to win here tonight."

"It was a big two points," Panthers captain Olli Jokinen said. "We haven't won here the last couple of years. If you look at our record, we missed the playoffs by five or six points. That team has been taking most of the points away."

Vokoun snapped an even longer streak of futility against the Thrashers.

The Panthers' goaltender was particularly dazzling in the first two periods, making 27 saves en route to defeating the Thrashers for the first time since a 6-0 win on December 30, 1999, when the 31-year-old Czech was with the Nashville Predators.

"It's nice to beat them," Vokoun said. "Obviously, I lost the first games against them (this year). You always want to be at least .500 no matter who you play."

Vokoun and the Panthers were just good enough to hold off a furious third-period comeback sparked by Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk.

The Russian superstar continued his dominance of the Panthers, scoring the first of his two goals on a wrister from beneath the left faceoff circle off the left pad of the Florida netminder for his NHL-leading 30th goal, cutting the lead to 2-1.

After Salei laced a one-timer from the blue line over Atlanta netminder Kari Lehtonen's left pad for his third goal of the season with 16:51 remaining, Kovalchuk brought the deficit back to one when he slid a cross-ice pass to Mark Recchi, who deposited the puck between the legs of Vokoun on the power play with 12:53 remaining.

"It was one guy trying to win the game," Jokinen said. "He almost did it. He's probably the best player in the league. He made a nice pass for Recchi. It was lucky for us that there was only one guy scoring for them."

But Horton made sure Florida would not drop another one in Atlanta. The 22-year old laced a wrister from the top of the left faceoff circle off the glove of Lehtonen with 6:46 remaining to restore the Panthers' two-goal cushion.

"It's nice to score," Horton said. "I haven't scored in a while. The big thing is that we won the game."

The tally was just enough to stop Kovalchuk's bid to singlehandedly win the game for Atlanta.

Kovalchuk tallied his 11th goal in as many games against Florida, when he received a pass by Bobby Holik, beat Bouwmeester down the ice and lofted a wrister on the breakaway from inside the circles past Vokoun for a shorthanded tally with 5:27 remaining to cut the lead to 4-3.

"He's a great player," Vokoun said. "His goals are not by accident. He has smarts and he has speed."

The Thrashers had another breakaway opportunity on the same Florida power play, but Vokoun stymied Todd White with a pad save to preserve the lead.

"We had the power play, there's no reason for our defense to pinch," Florida coach Jacques Martin said. "We have to learn from these mistakes. They got the momentum, but we had to stop the bleeding. We have to get smarter when we have the puck."

Bouwmeester added an empty-net tally with 55 seconds to play to seal the win.

Horton opened the scoring by grabbing the rebound from Olli Jokinen's shot and lofting a blistering wrister from the crease over Lehtonen's left shoulder at 8:16 of the first period.

Dvorak extended the advantage to 2-0 at 10:51 of the first when his wrister from inside the circles rattled between the left skate of Lehtonen and the post. The Atlanta netminder quickly got his glove on the puck and play was whistled dead.

But replays clearly showed that the puck trickled into the net before Lehtonen stopped it and the call was reversed upon video review.

"The first two goals were really fluky," Thrashers interim coach Don Waddell said. "The first one hit the referee and (Horton) banged it home, and the second one barely went over the line. Some nights you get bounces and some nights you don't. I thought we were playing well and all of a sudden we were down 2-0."

The 24-year-old Lehtonen set aside 25 shots in the loss and fell to 11-3-1 lifetime against the Panthers.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 2 0 3 5
    ATLANTA 0 0 3 3 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: FLA - NATHAN HORTON 9 (OLLI JOKINEN, JOZEF STUMPEL) 8:15
    FLA - RADEK DVORAK 4 (RICHARD ZEDNIK, BRETT MCLEAN) 10:51
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 30 (TODD WHITE, KEN KLEE) 0:56
    FLA - RUSLAN SALEI 3 (KAMIL

    Dec 27 9:39 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 5
    ATLANTA 3
    3RD PRD: FLA - (EN) JAY BOUWMEESTER 5 (JOZEF STUMPEL) 19:04

    Panthers vs. ThrashersDec 27 9:38 PM
  • 0
    roots
    RUWTbot Took away 15 roots

    Panthers vs. ThrashersDec 27 9:38 PM
  • 15
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 15 roots (Close Finish)

    Panthers vs. ThrashersDec 27 9:32 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 4
    ATLANTA 3
    3RD PRD: ATL - (SH) ILYA KOVALCHUK 31 (BOBBY HOLIK, ALEXEI ZHITNIK)
    14:33

    Panthers vs. ThrashersDec 27 9:26 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 4
    ATLANTA 2
    3RD PRD: FLA - NATHAN HORTON 10 (JASSEN CULLIMORE, STEPHEN WEISS)
    13:14

    Panthers vs. ThrashersDec 27 9:21 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 3
    ATLANTA 2
    3RD PRD: ATL - (PP) MARK RECCHI 7 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, TOBIAS ENSTROM)
    7:07

    Panthers vs. ThrashersDec 27 9:12 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 3
    ATLANTA 1
    3RD PRD: FLA - RUSLAN SALEI 3 (KAMIL KREPS) 3:09

    Panthers vs. ThrashersDec 27 9:04 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 2
    ATLANTA 1
    3RD PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 30 (TODD WHITE, KEN KLEE) 0:56

    Panthers vs. ThrashersDec 27 9:00 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 2 0 2
    ATLANTA 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: FLA - NATHAN HORTON 9 (OLLI JOKINEN, JOZEF STUMPEL) 8:15
    FLA - RADEK DVORAK 4 (RICHARD ZEDNIK, BRETT MCLEAN) 10:51
    2ND PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLA 12

    Dec 27 8:39 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 2 2
    ATLANTA 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: FLA - NATHAN HORTON 9 (OLLI JOKINEN) 8:15
    FLA - RADEK DVORAK 4 (UNASSISTED) 10:51
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLA 12 12
    ATL 16 16
    GOALIE

    Dec 27 7:47 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 2
    ATLANTA 0
    1ST PRD: FLA - RADEK DVORAK 4 (UNASSISTED) 10:51

    Panthers vs. ThrashersDec 27 7:35 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 1
    ATLANTA 0
    1ST PRD: FLA - NATHAN HORTON 9 (OLLI JOKINEN) 8:15

    Panthers vs. ThrashersDec 27 7:24 PM