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Panthers @ Blackhawks Tonight

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

Tonight's Game Notes

TONIGHT'S GAME: The Florida Panthers play their fourth preseason game and the fourth of six consecutive road preseason games this evening when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks. Tonight marks the fourth of six games in eight nights for the Panthers. The Cats return to South Florida for their final two preseason games, when they will face-off against Atlanta on Sept. 27 and Chicago on Sept. 28.

LAST GAME: The Panthers played their third exhibition game last night in Atlanta with the Thrahsers defeating the Cats 6-3. C Olli Jokinen had an assist on two of the Panthers three goals. Jokinen now has three points (1-2) in the two preseason games he has appeared in. RW Nathan Horton scored a PPG in the third period. The Cats have now scored one PPG in all three exhibition games.

NEXT GAME: After tonight's game, the Panthers will travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico to take on the New York Rangers in their fifth exhibition game. When both teams take the ice at Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum, it will mark the first time any NHL game has ever been played in the Caribbean.

SERIES HISTORY: The Panthers and Blackhawks met once last season when Florida defeated Chicago 4-3 on Dec. 3. in overtime. C Olli Jokinen scored the overtime winner. In their franchise history, the Panthers are 6-10-3-1 against the Blackhawks. The two teams will not meet this year in the regular season, but they will meet in Florida in the final exhibition game for the Panthers on Sept. 28 at the BankAtlantic Center.

STRONG FINISH: The Panthers ended the 2005-06 schedule going 3-0-2 in their last five games. D Mike Van Ryn ended the Cats season on a high note, scoring two goals including the OT game-winner in the final game of the season against Atlanta. Two games prior, it was C Joe Nieuwendyk who had the OT winner as the Panthers won in Ottawa 5-4.

FREE AGENT FRENZY: The Panthers were very active in free agency, acquiring two key players for the upcoming season. D Ruslan Salei (from ANA) and G Ed Belfour (from TOR) bring a combined 201 games of NHL playoff experience. Belfour has accumulated the second most wins in NHL history and Salei has played in more games then any other defensemen selected in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.

SPECIAL TEAMS: With Nathan Horton's PPG last night in Atlanta, the Cats have now scored one PPG in all three exhibition games. Olli Jokinen scored in the first period against Calgary with the man advantage, and Martin Lojek followed the following night against Edmonton with a power play goal late in the first period.

SHOT ON GOAL: Florida has outshot their opponents in two of their first three preseason games. The Cats outshot Calgary 37-25 Sunday night in the Saddledome and they outshot Atlanta last night 32-21. C Olli Jokinen has eight shots on goal in his two preseason games played. LW Martin Gelinas led the Cats last night with five shots on goal. D Bryan Allen led the team at Calgary with six shots at the goaltender.

DOUBLE DUTY: Cats bench boss Jacques Martin took over the duties of General Manager on Sept. 3, 2006. He is currently the only head coach in the NHL to serve as both coach and General Manager. Martin has 444 career coaching victories, second most among active NHL coaches.

ELDER STATESMAN: C Olli Jokinen is now the longest tenured Panther. Jokinen was traded to Florida in June 2000. In five seasons with the Cats, he has scored 115 goals and 142 assists, while being named captain of the team prior to the 2003-04 season. His 88 points last season marked the third highest single season total in Panthers history.

LEADERS: C Stephen Weiss (3-1-3), LW Rostislav Olesz (2-2-4) and C Chris Gratton (0-4-4) led the Panthers in points during the 2005 preseason. All three players are back with the Cats again for the 2007 preseason. Gratton also lead Florida with 18 PIM during last year's preseason games.

GET YOUR TICKETS NOW: Tickets are on sale for Cats home games including great season, mini and group ticket packages. Call (954) 835-PUCK to reserve your seat. The Panthers drop the puck for the 2006-07 regular season on Oct. 6 when they face-off against the Boston Bruins at 7:30 p.m. at the BankAtlantic Center.

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