HELSINKI, Finland - Finnish defender Ville Koistinen scored the winning goal in a shootout to lift the Florida Panthers past the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 Friday in their season opener.
Koistinen also scored in regulation, giving the local fans a thrill in the first NHL game on Finnish ice.
Steven Reinprecht also connected in the shootout for Florida.
Chicago's Patrick Kane scored the first NHL goal on Finnish soil, and assisted on another. Another of the Blackhawks' young stars, Jonathan Toews, scored in the shootout.
But Tomas Vokoun stopped Patrick Sharp on the final shot of the shootout for the win.
Chicago took the lead in the shootout as Toews beat Vokoun. But Reinprecht tied it and Vokoun made a strong save on Kane with his left pad.
Koistinen gave Florida the lead and Sharp missed Chicago's last try before 12,056 in the 13,500-capacity Hartwall Arena.
Sharp scored at 11:36 of the third period for a 3-2 edge, but David Booth fired in a high shot with 2:21 remaining to make it 3-3.
The tenacious Panthers, who before the game promoted David Sexton to general manager, came back three times from one-goal deficits to force overtime.
Fresh from the penalty box, Kane took a pinpoint long pass from Niklas Hjalmarsson, accelerated before feinting Vokoun and finishing with a backhander 5:19 into the second period.
The goal clearly lifted the Blackhawks, who had mostly been on the defensive in their zone during the first period.
Michael Frolik tied it on a perfect pass across the crease by Reinprecht.
Chicago regained the lead early in the third period thanks to Dustin Byfuglien during a goalmouth scramble. A shot by Koistinen drew Florida even again, assists going to Cory Stillman and Frolik.