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Panthers snap Flyers' win streak at five

Thursday, 10.25.2007 / 12:46 AM / Game of the Night

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

Olli Jokinen
Olli Jokinen was basically a throw-in when the Florida Panthers acquired goaltender Roberto Luongo from the New York Islanders in a draft day deal in June 2000.

Seven years later, Jokinen is now the leading scorer in Panthers’ history.

The Florida captain passed Scott Mellanby for first on the Panthers’ all-time list in goals and points by scoring twice on Wednesday night, leading his team to a 4-3 victory over the Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia Flyers at the BankAtlantic Center.

“It’s nice,” Jokinen said of the records. “I’ve been lucky enough to play with good linemates. But the main thing is to keep getting wins. The points, the goals … they don’t matter if we don’t make the playoffs.”

Jokinen scored the game’s first two goals. His first came 2:35 into the game when he collected a long rebound between the circles and beat Flyers goalie Mathieu Biron with a wrist shot for his third goal of the season. He put the Panthers (4-5-0) up by a pair at 8:56 on a power play. With Flyers captain Jason Smith serving an interference penalty, Jokinen took a pass from Richard Zednik and fired a wrist shot past Biron to make it 2-0.

It was a rough night for Biron; the first one he’s experienced after going 6-1-0 in Philadelphia’s first seven games. His team was outshot 42-23, including 14-5 in the second period. Biron entered the contest with a .952 save percentage.

“For the last few weeks, the puck seemed to stick to my gear. Now it was bouncing in areas I didn’t want it to bounce and it was giving them second opportunities on a couple of the goals,'” Biron said. “Sometimes you've just got to battle through. It was one of those nights when the puck seemed to always find a spot and I was battling it.”

The Flyers came roaring back with goals on their first two shots of the middle period after Florida failed to capitalize on a four-minute power play. Joffrey Lupul cut the deficit in half with a power-play goal at 9:25, and Jeff Carter finished off a 2-on-1 with R.J. Umberger less than two minutes later to tie the game.

“We had a great first period, and then in the second period we took an unnecessary penalty and gave them a chance to get a goal,” Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. “I think when they scored the second goal, I think our third and fourth lines really turned the momentum around for us.”

Indeed they did, as Gregory Campbell put Florida back on top with his first of two goals at 14:16 of the second period, when he took a pass from Radek Dvorak and fired a slap shot that deflected off Smith and got past Biron to make it 3-2.

Campbell got his second goal 1:59 into the third period, when he took advantage of a failed clearing attempt by the Flyers’ defense and put a backhander past Biron to give the Panthers their second two-goal lead of the night.

“That’s good to see Gregory do well, because he’s one of the hardest-working guys out there,” said Florida defenseman Bryan Allen, who had two assists. “It’s always nice to see those guys score some goals.”

Campbell is often one of the last Panthers off the ice at practice. The hard work paid off for both Campbell and his Florida teammates.

“That’s what I work for,” said Campbell, who had nine career goals entering the night. “I know my responsibility on this team, but I like to work hard and I like to improve. I’m never happy with where I am. I know this game is always changing, and I have to become a better player every day.”

Martin was happy to see one of his blue-collar forwards get rewarded in a big way.

“It was really a big lift for our team to be able to go into the (locker room) after two periods with a one-goal lead,” Martin said. “It’s a nice reward. He had a real strong game. He scored some goals tonight, but he was also solid in our zone and solid along the wall.”

Philadelphia (6-2-0) got within a goal with 7:14 remaining in regulation, when Lasse Kukkonen beat Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun on a wraparound. But the Panthers tightened up defensively and skated away with the two points.

''We got beat to some loose pucks in front of our net, and we just allowed them too much time with the puck in our end,'' Flyers coach John Stevens said. ''We haven't been doing that to this point.''

In the end, Martin believes it was the Panthers’ work ethic that enabled them to snap the Flyers’ five-game winning streak. Florida will look for its second straight win on Friday night when it hosts the Buffalo Sabres. Game 2 of Philadelphia’s long road trip is on Thursday night at Tampa Bay.

“I thought it was a great effort,” Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. “In all three periods I thought we outplayed them. It was the game we created the most chances.”

Quote of the Day

I'm a hockey player and that's what I love to do. That is what I am here for. Everything else is just a side note.

— Oilers forward Connor McDavid on moving beyond the anticipation of his long-awaited arrival in the NHL