ST. LOUIS – Tomas Vokoun certainly felt comfortable facing the St. Louis Blues.
Vokoun stopped 34 shots for his 32nd NHL shutout, Nathan Horton had a goal and an assist and the Florida Panthers beat St. Louis 4-0 on Saturday night. “I felt good,” said Vokoun, who picked up his second win of the season and first since Oct. 2. “Obviously every time you get a shutout it’s a mix of good play and luck. The most important is the two points.”
Cory Stillman, Stephen Weiss and Dennis Seidenberg also scored for the Panthers, who won Friday night in a shootout at Dallas. The back-to-back wins matched Florida’s win total for the month before Friday.
Vokoun, who earned his first shutout of the season, made his 27th appearance against St. Louis and 25th career start. Many of those came while playing in Nashville. He improved to 13-10-3 overall against St. Louis and had a 2.01 goals-against average coming into the game.
“Sometimes, it’s hard to control your rebounds,” Vokoun said. “It all depends on the situations. I got to see the puck well today. Guys were blocking shots. It was a little bit easier than some other games.”
The Blues, who lost for the fifth time in six home games, have gone 123 minutes, 50 seconds without a goal at home and dropped below .500 for the first time this season. They are 3-6-1 since opening the season with two wins over Detroit in Sweden.
“When you’re struggling to score like we are at this time, you’ve got to be so solid defensively,” Blues coach Andy Murray said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t.”
Stillman, a former Blues forward, put the Panthers ahead 1-0 at 10:36 of the first period with his first of the season. He took a backhand feed from Horton and beat goalie Chris Mason from the slot.
Weiss netted his fourth after the Panthers won a cycled puck behind the net. Weiss scored from the right circle at 17:24 to make it 2-0.
“All losses look bad,” Murray said. “Again, we’re down 2-0 in the first period and we’re having such a tough time scoring ourselves, and yet we give up two easy goals; very poor coverage decisions in our end and it’s 1-0. Again, another goal with poor coverage decisions.”
Seidenberg’s first of the season came off a wrist shot from the left point that got past a screened Mason 8:08 into the third.
Horton finished the scoring with an empty-net goal with 2:58 remaining.
“You want to try and jump on a team early and we didn’t do that,” Blues forward Keith Tkachuk said. “We knew they played last night. Obviously they had a big win last night, but they were struggling before that.
“We’ve just got to find our game here. We’re definitely off track. We just to find a way to work hard this week and try to get back.”
The Panthers came in with the mindset of playing a simple game and even talked about their approach in the morning rather than skating on the ice.
“We talked about it as a group about the back-to-backs and we’ve got 18 of them this year,” Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. “We need to be able to pick up points and we haven’t done a good job of that up through the early part of the season in these games.
“Tonight, we came out with a conscious effort to make good decisions with the puck and be patient and have some composure. I think we did all those things.”
NOTES: The last time the Blues were shut out in back-to-back home games was Nov. 20-22, 1997. They hadn’t been blanked in consecutive games anywhere since Feb. 28-29, 2004. … Mason played in his 200th NHL game. … Florida C Steven Reinprecht has scored eight of the team’s last 15 goals. … The Panthers played without LW Nick Tarnasky (broken orbital bone), LW David Booth (concussion), RW Radek Dvorak (lower-body injury) and C Dominic Moore (nasal surgery). The Blues were without D Carlo Colaiacovo (flu) and D Tyson Strachan (healthy scratch). … Blues C Andy McDonald went headfirst into the corner boards early in the third period and didn’t return. There was no immediate report on the extent of his injury.