SUNRISE, Fla. – After his teammates stunned the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks with three first-period goals, goalie Tomas Vokoun did the rest for the Florida Panthers.
Vokoun made 37 saves, including 27 over the last two periods, to help the Panthers hold on for a 3-2 victory that snapped the defending Stanley Cup champions’ eight-game winning streak.
The victory also snapped Florida’s season-high five-game losing streak and gave Panthers coach Pete DeBoer his 100th NHL win.
“It was a nice win,” DeBoer said. “I was happy for our guys. We came out ready to play, we had a good first (period). Obviously, the second and third, they cranked it up another notch. We didn’t try and do anything differently, we didn’t try and sit back, they’re that good a team.
“We bent, but didn’t break and got some big saves at the end.”
The game was the first between the teams since Dale Tallon, who spent 33 years in the Blackhawks organization and acquired many of the players who helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup last June, was hired as GM of the Panthers.
David Booth, Clay Wilson and Marty Reasoner scored first-period goals to give Florida (27-31-9) a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Vokoun’s 37 saves helped him improve to 8-3 in his last 11 starts against Chicago.
“They’re a great team,” Vokoun said. “You look at what they’ve done for a little while. They’re kicking into a whole other playoff gear lately. We battled hard and obviously it wasn’t pretty, but it’s a big win. It’s good for the psyche in the locker room, get guys a little bit up and excited. We need it.”
Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane scored for the Blackhawks (37-24-6), who hadn’t lost since a 4-3 setback against Columbus on Feb. 18. Their winning streak was the longest active run in the league and the second-longest this season.
Rookie Carey Crawford made his 12th consecutive start in goal for the Blackhawks, but was pulled after the first period. Crawford, who was looking to tie Glenn Hall’s franchise record of nine consecutive victories, stopped five of eight shots.
“It just seemed like everything they were shooting was going in,” Crawford said. “It was just one of those games where it wasn’t going my way.”
Marty Turco made seven saves in relief of Crawford.
The Blackhawks outshot Florida 29-7 over the last two periods, 39-15 for the game.
The 15 shots represented a season low for the Panthers, who recorded 17 shots in a 4-3 victory against the Rangers on Jan. 25.
“I’ve been around a while and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a bigger lesson to be learned than I did tonight,” Turco said. “Whatever it is we thought to ourselves or did, changed after one period. It was one heck of a wake-up call. The way we played (the last two periods) was unreal, but sometimes it’s disappointing. Why can’t we play like that all the time?”
Booth opened the scoring at 4:06 after a turnover at the Chicago blue line. After stealing the puck, Michal Repik skated in and took a slap shot and Booth put in the rebound.
Wilson, playing in only his fourth NHL game this season, made it 2-0 at 9:44. After Niclas Bergfors’ shot was blocked, Wilson fired a wrist shot that deflected off Chicago centre Ryan Johnson.
Reasoner scored with only 6.9 seconds left in the period when he grabbed a loose puck in the high slot and fired a wrist shot over Crawford’s glove hand.
“We can beat any team in this league, it seems like, or play with any team,” Booth said. “It’s just we’ve got to do it on a consistent basis. That team is really good, but we got off to a good start and that was huge for us.”
Kane got Chicago on the scoreboard at 11:03 of the second when he tapped in Brian Campbell’s pass from behind the net.
Hossa made it 3-2 at 13:48 with his 30th goal in 46 career games against Florida. He one-timed Dave Bolland’s pass and beat Vokoun from near the left faceoff dot.
“It was all about the first period and the start of the game,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “They outworked us. We had lazy habits and probably extended our shifts and the result is three goals. They were all preventable goals.
“If you’re looking for an easy game, you’re not going to find it in this league.”
Notes: Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews’ nine-game point streak, the longest active streak in the NHL, was snapped. Hossa now has the longest active streak after extending it to eight games. … Chicago fell one game short of tying the franchise record of nine consecutive victories, set in December 2008. … Chicago D Duncan Keith was in the lineup after missing the last 15 minutes of Saturday night’s game in Toronto after being hit by a shot on his right hand. … Florida D Alexander Sulzer missed his second consecutive game because of an upper-body injury.