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game recap

Panthers defeat Blackhawks on goals by newcomers in season opener

Luostarinen, Hornqvist each scores in third period in Florida debut

by Alain Poupart / Independent Correspondent

Luostarinen's first NHL goal

CHI@FLA: Luostarinen breaks tie with first NHL goal

Eetu Luostarinen buries a quick shot to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead in the 3rd period with his first NHL goal

  • 00:31 •

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Patric Hornqvist and Eetu Luostarinen each scored in the third period of his Florida Panthers debut, a 5-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks in their season opener at BB&T Center on Sunday.

"Obviously, I got some ice time over there in Finland, some games (for KalPa in Liiga) before the (training) camp, and I think that was a huge deal for me," Luostarinen said. "I just wanted to keep going, and that first game felt good."

Keith Yandle scored his 100th NHL goal in his 867th consecutive game, the fourth-longest streak in NHL history, and Chris Driedger made 25 saves for Florida.

Video: CHI@FLA: Yandle buries shot from the circle

Alex DeBrincat and Connor Murphy scored for the Blackhawks (0-3-0), and Collin Delia made 24 saves.

"We had some good pushes," Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I just feel we didn't play well enough, we weren't clean enough with the puck, we weren't sharp enough in little situations that make a difference in the game."

The Panthers were scheduled to start the season with back-to-back home games against the Dallas Stars on Thursday and Friday, but those were postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the Stars. Florida will play Chicago again Tuesday at home.

After Murphy tied the game 2-2 at 2:53 of the third period, Luostarinen scored his first NHL goal 22 seconds later to put the Panthers ahead 3-2 at 3:15.

"Loved his game," Florida coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think he does a lot of good things. I think he's got some creativity to his game. The puck follows him around a bit. The goal and the timing of it kind of gives you an illustration of an under-the-radar type of player that can help our team and be useful in all situations."

Hornqvist made it 4-2 at 5:57 when his shot from along the right boards went in off the stick of defenseman Calvin de Haan.

Video: CHI@FLA: Hornqvist scores off defender's stick

Luostarinen and Hornqvist each had an assist. The Panthers acquired Luostarinen in a trade from the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 24, 2020, and Hornqvist in a trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sept. 24, 2020.

Jonathan Huberdeau, who had two assists, scored a power-play goal at 16:55 for the 5-2 final.

It was the third time in three games the Blackhawks allowed five goals.

"I think around our net is a big part of it," Murphy said. "I don't think, right now, we have the right intensity that we need. That's including all of us [defensemen], and it could go as far as forwards winning battles too. And then I think it's just some puck play and some breakdowns. You have a breakdown, you have to know how to manage that chance or that play. We don't seem to be doing a very good job with that right now as a team. Those are two areas, but we'll look over things and we'll definitely need to be better."

After Chicago had a goal by Patrick Kane at 12:32 of the first period nullified when Quenneville successfully challenged that Kane was offside, Florida took a 1-0 lead 12 seconds into the second period when Aaron Ekblad's flip shot from the point deflected off the stick of defenseman Duncan Keith.

Video: CHI@FLA: Ekblad scores opening goal through traffic

Yandle made it 2-0 at 5:33 when he got to a loose puck near the boards and quickly shot it with Delia out of position. Quenneville said on Friday that he was leaning toward making the 34-year-old defenseman a healthy scratch, but he changed his mind after practice Saturday.

"I mean, obviously, just for me, it was just being ready to go and just waiting for my time to get the chance," Yandle said. "And I think scoring that goal kind of helped solidify the work that I put in and being ready to go, and I think a lot of it was seeing the guys, seeing their reaction to it and getting real fired up for me."

DeBrincat made it 2-1 at 12:24 when he one-timed Keith's pass in the left face-off circle with Yandle serving a minor penalty for holding.

"It's frustrating," DeBrincat said. "We work hard to get back in games, then they go down and score. I feel like a broken record, but we have to play a full 60 minutes. We go down in the second, we battle back and end up losing by a lot. So we just have to be better."

NOTES: Yandle's is the longest active games-played streak in the NHL and is the fourth-longest in NHL history (Doug Jarvis, 964; Gary Unger, 914; and Steve Larmer, 884). ... Defensemen Radko Gudas and Gustav Forsling, and forwards Alex Wennberg, Anthony Duclair, Carter Verhaeghe and Ryan Lomberg each made his Panthers debut. Verhaeghe had an assist on Luostarinen's goal and was plus-1 in 17:16. Gudas had a game-high three hits, had an assist on Hornqvist's goal, and was plus-2 with four shots on goal in 15:10.

Video: Panthers defeat Blackhawks in season opener

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