SUNRISE, Fla. - David Booth became a fan-favourite in Florida last season, and he's doing his best to keep it that way.
Booth scored his second goal of the game with 1:06 left in overtime to give the Panthers a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday night.
"Speed, enthusiasm, the energy he plays with every night, he's a great player," said first-year Florida coach Peter DeBoer, who earned his first NHL victory. "Guys like that are almost the heartbeat of your team. They get over the boards and they can change the momentum with their energy and their work ethic. Those guys are easy to coach."
Drawing chants of "Booooth! Booooth!" at the BankAtlantic Center every time he touches the puck, he has three goals in two games.
"He's playing unbelievable," Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun said. "He works really hard on and off the ice and it's starting to pay off for him. Every good thing that happens, he definitely deserves because he puts in the time. He's playing unbelievable and it's pretty to watch."
Booth's winning goal also came with a little bit of luck. Nathan Horton attempted to pass in front of the net, but the puck bounced to goalie Kari Lehtonen and he couldn't handle it. When the puck got past Atlanta centre Eric Perrin, Booth just poked it into an open net.
"I don't know, it was just laying there," Booth said, "so I just tried to get my stick on it."
Booth's first goal tied the score 1-1 at 11:14 of the first period. He took a centring pass from Stephen Weiss and fired a wrist shot past Lehtonen.
Weiss also scored for the Panthers, and Richard Zednik - playing in his first regular season game at BankAtlantic Center since his neck was slashed last February - had two assists.
"This is the best game he's played for us since I've been here," DeBoer said of Zednik, who received a loud ovation during pre-game introductions. "I thought he was one of our best players tonight."
Slava Kozlov and Jason Williams scored for Atlanta (1-0-1), which beat Washington 7-4 at home on Friday. The Thrashers opened last season with six losses.
"I think that if we'd gotten four (points) it would have been better, but obviously we come in to another team's building and sneak a point out, especially in our own division, that's pretty good," Atlanta coach John Anderson said.
Tomas Vokoun, who had a shaky outing in Florida's 6-4 loss at Carolina the previous night, made 31 saves.
"I thought Tomas bounced back and was our best player tonight," DeBoer said. "He gave us a chance to win after a slow start."
Lehtonen made 35 saves for Atlanta. He left the game for 3:37 in the first period because of an equipment malfunction. Backup Johan Hedberg stopped one shot during Lehtonen's absence.
Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk hit the post with a wrist shot midway through the third period.
"I'm not sure what we did different or what they did," Lehtonen said. "I guess they outworked us out there and that's when we needed to take a few penalties and they had even more momentum. The first two periods, I think we dominated a lot. And I don't know what happened at the end."
Atlanta trailed 2-1 before Williams tied it at 16:57 of the second period. He tipped in Ron Hainsey's long pass from the point after Jim Slater won the faceoff.
The Thrashers took a 1-0 lead at 9:12 of the first when Kozlov tipped Ilya Kovalchuk's pass across the goal mouth on a delayed penalty.
Weiss gave Florida the lead 19 seconds into the second period on a pretty give-and-go play with Zednik. Weiss tipped in Zednik's pass with a backhand.
"Yesterday, we played well, but unfortunately we didn't get the two points," Vokoun said. "We got off to a slow start today, but we took the game over in the third period and overtime. We deserved it."
Notes: Florida D Keith Ballard took a penalty for tripping only 10 seconds into the game. ... Florida RW Anthony Stewart, who was a healthy scratch Friday night, switched his jersey number from 57 to 13. ... D Niclas Havelid assisted on Atlanta's first goal, giving him four assists in two games. ... Atlanta D Garnet Exelby played in his 300th NHL game.