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Panthers edge Jokerit in final preseason tune-up

by Shawn P. Roarke
HELSINKI -- Florida closed its exhibition season here at Hartwall Arena tonight with a much-needed 4-2 victory against local team Jokerit. With the win, the Panthers finished a long and winding preseason with a 5-4 record.

The nine-game schedule spanned three continents, several time zones and featured games in nine cities.

Wednesday's victory, on the back of Cory Stillman's two-goal performance, washed away the bitter feelings associated with Monday's 3-2 shootout loss to Finnish club Tappara.

"The competition in both (Finnish) cities was great," Panthers coach Peter De Boer said. "We're glad to get done with the preseason and have everybody healthy going into the regular season."

Ville Koistinen, the only Finn on the Florida roster, got a point Wednesday night with a sweet pass to set up Stillman's second goal, which made it 4-1.

"It wasn't anything fancy," Koistinen told "At least we got the win tonight."

Koistinen said he was far more relaxed Wednesday than he was during Monday's game, played in his hometown of Tampere. He had all of his family and many of his close friends at that game. Koistinen said he was pressing to put on a good show.

Stillman, though, said Wednesday's performance was more representative of what Koistinen can bring to the table for the Panthers.

"I think he has been nervous for the past few days," Stillman told "But he's played well for us in training camp. We've been using him on the power play and he can really move the puck."

Koistinen may be able to move the puck, but Stillman also showed he still knows what to do with the puck when he gets it on his stick.

Stillman's first of the game, in the last minute of the first period, was a quick conversion of a brilliant pass from Steve Reinprecht.

"It's always nice to score, it doesn't matter where it is," Stillman told "We were much better tonight, but there are still things we can work on."

Dennis Seidenberg, signed during the preseason as a free agent, opened the scoring late in the first period with a pretty backhand goal after he joined the rush and received a pass from Nathan Horton. Twenty-nine seconds later, Stillman had his first of the night.

Michael Frolik made it 3-1 in the second period when he created a turnover deep in the Jokerit zone and then feathered a low shot between the legs of goalie Mikko Stromberg.

Stillman finished the scoring for Florida later in the second period.

Tomi Koivisto, a former St. Louis Blues player, and Ossi Saarinen scored for Jokerit. Saarinen's goal, lifted over a sprawling Tomas Vokoun, was perhaps the prettiest of the game.

Vokoun finished with 19 saves, while Stromberg had an impressive performance with 30 saves.

Florida opens the 2009-10 regular season against Chicago here Friday in the first of back-to-back NHL Compuware Premiere-Helsinki games.

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