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Panthers blank Flames 3-0 for first victory

by John Kreiser
Radek Dvorak and Tomas Vokoun combined to make the Florida Panthers winners for the first time in the new season.

Dvorak scored two quick first-period goals and Vokoun made 27 saves to continue his career-long dominance of Calgary as the Panthers wrapped up a three-game swing through Western Canada by beating the Flames 3-0 on Thursday night for their first victory.

"This is my fourth year in Florida and this is one of the best games I've seen us play," said Vokoun, who faced only 10 shots in the first two periods. "We were playing exactly how we wanted and it was a great effort from everybody."

The Panthers, who struggled to score in their first two games, a 3-2 loss at Edmonton and a 2-1 defeat at Calgary, got the jump on the Flames when Dvorak picked up a rebound, spun in the slot and whipped it past Miikka Kiprusoff just 4:20 into the game.

He made it 2-0 at 7:25 when he took a drop pass from Marty Reasoner, took a stride and stepped into a slap shot from just above the right circle that caught the far post behind Kiprusoff and pinged into the net.

"Reasoner made a nice play taking both guys to the net and I had no one on the other side, so I decided to take the shot and I don't think Kipper saw that puck at all," Dvorak said.

The two-goal deficit looked like a mountain for the Flames, who've lost two of their first three games -- and were shut out in both losses.

"We were a team that played a very soft game," Flames coach Brent Sutter said. "At the end of the day if you really want to score goals you've got to get into tough areas."

The sellout crowd of 19.289 at the Scotiabank Saddledome made its displeasure known in the final minutes. Sutter didn't blame the fans for booing.

"You may not score goals every night and you may not win every game, but you need that level of play to be where it needs to be," he said. "We've got tremendous, tremendous fans here in Calgary -- tremendous -- and you know what they want and expect, and when they don't get it, they have every right."

Shawn Matthias put the game out of reach by scoring his first of the season at 9:57 of the third period, completing a give-and-go with Rostislav Olesz by flipping the puck over Kiprusoff's arm. After that, the only question was whether Vokoun would get his 39th career shutout -- and he did, stopping 17 shots in the third period. He's now 13-4-4 with a 1.88 goals-against average against the Flames in his career.

"He played well," Flames defenseman Ian White said. "But we took a lot of perimeter shots."

Florida, which didn't take a penalty in the loss at Vancouver on Monday, was penalty-free again until being called for having too many men on the ice 8:08 into the second period. The Panthers killed off that power play and three others to improve to 6-for-6 this season.

The Panthers head back to South Florida for their home opener against Tampa Bay on Saturday night.

"I thought we had a great road trip," center Mike Santorelli said. "We kept the mindset the same as the first two games -- work hard, use our speed and get pucks to the net."

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report

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