for this game

Jokinen leads Panthers over Thrashers

Mar 17, 2008 - 1:30 AM
By Michael Snyder PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) - Captain Olli Jokinen scored his team-high 32nd goal of the season as the Florida Panthers inched closer to the playoffs with a 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Sunday afternoon.

Radek Dvorak and Rostislav Olesz also tallied for the Panthers, who haven't lost in March and notched their seventh straight victory. Brett McLean had a pair of assists for Florida, which equaled the best win streak in team history with the victory.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 49th goal for the Thrashers, who have lost four of five.

"We don't look back," Jokinen said. "We don't think we're on a seven-game winning streak, so we're able to put this game behind us. We're finding ways to win games and that's all that matters."

With Philadelphia getting routed, 7-1, by Pittsburgh earlier Sunday, the Panthers (35-31-8) took the ice knowing that a win would put them only two points behind the Flyers (35-28-10) for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

"At this time of the year, you need your best players to (play like) your best players," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said.

Carolina (39-30-5) defeated Ottawa, 5-1, later Sunday, giving the Hurricanes a five-point advantage over Florida in the Southeast Division race. Washington (35-30-8) also won, posting a 2-1 shootout victory over the Boston Bruins.

The Capitals and Panthers each have 78 points, but Florida has played one game more.

All-Star Tomas Vokoun stopped 29 shots to win his fourth straight for the Panthers, who are looking to end the second-longest playoff drought in the NHL. Florida hasn't made the playoffs since 2000.

"We're still not there," Martin said. "We still have some catching up to do."

After going nine games without a goal, Jokinen notched his second in as many nights - and only the third since his skate accidentally slashed the neck of teammate Richard Zednik in Buffalo on February 10 - to make it 2-0.

Just seven seconds after Kovalchuk was sent to the box for slashing, Jokinen powered in his first goal in seven games against Atlanta. Defenseman Steve Montador, who was just inside the blue line, passed to Jokinen at the top of the left circle and he blistered a shot past Johan Hedberg on his glove side.

It was Jokinen's second game-winning goal in as many games. And more of the same misery for Atlanta, which is playing out the string.

"It's just a reflection of us not being able to do it every night but maybe every night or every third night," Thrashers captain Bobby Holik said. "They're fighting hard for a playoff spot. If we were able to play with that intensity every night, good things would happen. But every other night or every third game, you never get anything out of it."

Florida had gone ahead, 1-0, just 2:07 into the game when Dvorak slapped in a rebound after Hedberg had made a pad save on Ville Peltonen.

"You have to shoot at his legs because he gets a lot of rebounds," Dvorak said of Hedberg. "And that's what happened there. Ville tried a wrap-around and I got a good rebound there. I just closed my eyes - and tried to hit the net."

It could have been worse for Atlanta (31-35-8), as Hedberg made a spectacular save on Stephen Weiss with 8:49 to play in the period on a rebound in which the goalie extended himself across almost the entire crease.

Kovalchuk poked in a shot from in front of the crease one minute into the second period to cut Florida's lead in half.

But with the Panthers opening the third period with a man advantage, it took just 17 seconds to regain the two-goal lead.

Jokinen passed from the right circle to Olesz who swatted the puck into the left corner of the net to make it 3-1.

"You score in the first minute of a period and it's a big boost for a hockey club," Dvorak said. "That's huge. We won the game because of that."

"The difference was the power play," Thrashers coach Don Waddell said. "We give up two power play goals and we don't score on the power play."

Florida has won four straight against Atlanta for the first time. The Panthers have won five straight at home while the Thrashers suffered their ninth straight road loss.

"Once again we played well," Vokoun said. "They got 30 shots, but they didn't get that much (good chances). We understand now what team play is. Our games are so different. We played without control (before) and now everything is in control."

Florida has eight games remaining, all against divisional foes - including two each against Carolina and Washington.

"We need to keep collecting points," said McLean, who has 10 points in the last five games. "There are so many teams that are in the mix, so who knows what the combination is going to be for us to actually get in."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 0 1 0 1
    FLORIDA 2 0 1 3 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: FLA - RADEK DVORAK 6 (VILLE PELTONEN, KAMIL KREPS) 2:07
    FLA - OLLI JOKINEN 32 (STEVE MONTADOR, BRETT MCLEAN) 13:38
    2ND PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 49 (BRYAN LITTLE, JOEL KWIATKOWSKI)
    1:00
    3RD PRD: FLA - ROSTISLAV OLESZ

    Mar 16 7:28 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 1
    FLORIDA 3
    3RD PRD: FLA - ROSTISLAV OLESZ 14 (OLLI JOKINEN, BRETT MCLEAN) 0:17

    Thrashers 1, Panthers 3  3rd - 19:43Mar 16 6:57 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 0 1 1
    FLORIDA 2 0 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: FLA - RADEK DVORAK 6 (VILLE PELTONEN, KAMIL KREPS) 2:07
    FLA - OLLI JOKINEN 32 (STEVE MONTADOR, BRETT MCLEAN) 13:38
    2ND PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 49 (BRYAN LITTLE, JOEL KWIATKOWSKI)
    1:00
    SHOTS ON GOAL:

    Mar 16 6:38 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 1
    FLORIDA 2
    2ND PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 49 (BRYAN LITTLE, JOEL KWIATKOWSKI) 1:00

    Thrashers 1, Panthers 2  2nd - 19:00Mar 16 6:05 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 0 0
    FLORIDA 2 2 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: FLA - RADEK DVORAK 6 (VILLE PELTONEN, KAMIL KREPS) 2:07
    FLA - OLLI JOKINEN 32 (STEVE MONTADOR, BRETT MCLEAN) 13:38
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATL 9 9

    Mar 16 5:45 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 0
    FLORIDA 2
    1ST PRD: FLA - OLLI JOKINEN 32 (STEVE MONTADOR, BRETT MCLEAN) 13:38

    Thrashers 0, Panthers 2  1st - 6:22Mar 16 5:37 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 0
    FLORIDA 1
    1ST PRD: FLA - RADEK DVORAK 6 (VILLE PELTONEN, KAMIL KREPS) 2:07

    Thrashers 0, Panthers 1  1st - 17:53Mar 16 5:19 PM