Booth propels Panthers past Blues

SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) — David Booth recorded a hat trick
and an assist and Tomas Vokoun turned aside 24 shots in his
500th career start as the Florida Panthers posted a 5-3 victory
over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

Nathan Horton and Radek Dvorak also scored for Florida, which
improved to 3-1-0 in its last four contests.

“(Getting the hat trick) feels good,” Booth said. “I think it’s
more important we got a win because it’s so close in the Eastern
Conference right now.”

Panthers coach Peter DeBoer was thrilled with Booth’s

“We had a couple of timely goals tonight,” DeBoer said.
“(Booth’s hat trick) was great; it was good to see David get
rewarded. He’s a hard worker and puts a lot of effort into (his

“He was in a little mini-slump there, and it was nice to see him
break out tonight.”

Vokoun became the 53rd goaltender to accomplish the feat and
just the seventh active goalie to reach this milestone, joining
Martin Brodeur, Curtis Joseph, Olaf Kolzig, Chris Osgood,
Nikolai Khabibulin and Roberto Luongo.

“It’s a nice milestone,” Vokoun said. “I’m proud of it.”

David Backes scored twice, Brad Boyes also tallied for St.
Louis, which fell to 4-2-0 in its last six games.

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“(Two goals) isn’t the thing,” Backes said. “We have no excuses
tonight. We needed to have our jump and our desperation right
from the drop of the puck and we didn’t have it.”

“I thought our effort was below the norm,” St. Louis coach Andy
Murray said.

Making his 16th consecutive start, Chris Mason turned aside 30
shots for the Blues.

“It was really weird; it was kind of an awkward,” Mason said of
playing against Vokoun.

“That’s the first time we played against each other, so it was a
little strange.”

Booth, who leads the team with 24 goals, netted only one goal in
his last 15 contests. On Saturday, the Detroit native scored
once in each period, capping the hat trick with 2:26 remaining
in the contest.

“It’s funny because the last hat trick I had I was struggling up
until that point too,” Booth said. “You have to keep working
hard; working things in practice and eventually they’ll go in.
When you play with great players, they’ll find you.”