NHL Game Summary - Atlanta at Florida
(Sunday, March 16th)
Final Score: Florida 3, Atlanta 1
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Olli Jokinen tallied a goal and an assist as the Florida Panthers won their seventh straight game in a 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers at BankAtlantic Center.
Radek Dvorak and Rostislav Olesz each scored for the Panthers, who now have 78 points and trail Philadelphia by two for the eight spot in the Eastern Conference and are five points behind Carolina for first in the Southeast.
Tomas Vokoun stopped 29 shots for Florida, which tied the franchise winning streak first set from November 2-14, 1995 and matched during a seven-game run from March 17-29, 2006.
"We lost a couple of games on bad breaks and sometimes you start panicking and questioning what you are doing," said Vokoun. "I think now we have the confidence. This whole game is based on confidence. We're a team that's winning and with good results comes confidence and right now we have it."
Ilya Kovalchuk tallied his 49th goal of the season and Johan Hedberg stopped 22 shots for the Thrashers, who have dropped four of their last five and 12 of 14 overall.
"I think this was a big step ahead for us in the right direction even though it's not enough," said Hedberg. "We've got to keep building on it and try to finish this season off on a good note. It's a pretty rough time for us right now but we can't really feel sorry for ourselves. We've got to keep battling."
Florida opened the scoring just 2:07 into the contest on Dvorak's sixth goal of the campaign.
On the power play, the Panthers took a 2-0 lead as Jokinen's slap shot from the top of the left circle beat Hedberg with 6:22 left in the first.
Atlanta got a goal back just one minute into the second period as Bryan Little picked up a loose puck along the left boards and from down low shoveled a pass out front where Kovalchuk deflected it past Vokoun.
Hedberg made 12 saves in the middle frame to keep it a one-goal game.
Florida, though, grabbed a two-goal advantage just 17 seconds into the third period. Jokinen skated down the right side after receiving the puck in the Atlanta end and from the side of the net threw a backhand pass across the goalmouth to Olesz, who had an easy tap-in for his 14th goal of the season.
Atlanta pulled Hedberg with over a minute to play for the extra attacker, but were unable to get any past Vokoun.
The Thrashers play in Philadelphia on Tuesday...Florida has off until Thursday when it will take on Carolina...Florida has won four straight against Atlanta after dropping the first two contests of the season...The Panthers went 2- for-5 on the power play while Atlanta finished 0-for-4...Florida has won five straight at home while Atlanta has lost nine straight on the road...Florida is 26-8-2 in March over the last three years.
03/16 20:42:40 ET