Jokinen broke a second-period tie, and Nathan Horton and Juraj Kolnik added late goals to lead Florida to a 4-1 victory over Philadelphia on Tuesday night that completed the Panthers’ first four-game season sweep of the Flyers.
David Booth also scored for Florida, which won for the fourth time in six games and is trying to get back in the playoff race.
“Our chances are getting slimmer and slimmer, that’s the bottom line,” Jokinen said. “You start running out of games. Every game is big for us. There is no room for errors right now, at this point of the year.”
The Panthers have nine games remaining, including five of their next six at home, and need to make up plenty of ground to move through the crowded Eastern Conference standings and into one of the eight playoff spots.
Florida is in 12th place, five points behind Montreal and the post-season cutoff.
“You need to have your better players outperform the opposition,” Florida coach Jacques Martin said. “The last couple of games, Jokinen and Horton have played well. You’re looking for your top guys to lead your team down the stretch.”
Dimitry Afanasenkov scored for the Flyers, who have lost four of five and have the worst record in the NHL at 20-42-11. Martin Biron was solid throughout, making 30 saves.
Trailing by a goal in the third period, the Flyers picked up the pace and became more physical. But Florida’s Ed Belfour was equal to the task, turning back shot after shot and finishing with 24 saves.
“It really feels good now,” Horton said. “It was a big win for us. Eddie played well for us, and he’s going to keep playing well for us. We need to step up and play like him.”
Horton added an insurance goal at 16:13, skating down the right side and sending a blistering shot over Biron’s glove and into the upper right corner. It was his 28th of the season.
Kolnik extended the lead to three goals with his 11th with just over a minute left.
“We gave them some breakouts and some opportunities, and you can’t have that,” said Biron, 4-4-1 since being acquired from Buffalo on Feb. 27.
Booth opened the scoring early in the second period, when a shot from the point was knocked down in front. He scooped up the loose puck and sent a backhander past Biron for his second of the season at 2:44.
The Flyers tied it 1-1 11 minutes later when Afanasenkov took a pass at the blue line, skated toward the net, crossed in front near the crease and sent a backhander past Belfour at 13:02.
Jokinen put Florida ahead to stay. Seconds after leaving the penalty box, Jokinen took a clearing pass from Biron in the neutral zone, circled around defenceman Braydon Coburn, went in alone and beat Biron for his 34th goal.
Jokinen, the Panthers captain, was coming off a career-high six-point game (two goals, four assists) in an 8-5 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Play got chippy in the first period when Belfour wandered out of his net to clear the puck and ran into one of the Flyers in the circle. Belfour spun, and his stick swung wildly against the glass. A few seconds later, Todd Fedoruk and Belfour collided at the faceoff dot.
The goalie was sent backward onto his seat, and struck Fedoruk in the head with his stick as he fell. Belfour picked up a double-minor for high sticking, and Fedoruk was whistled for roughing, but the Panthers successfully killed the penalty.
Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren saw plenty lacking in the Flyers’ performance.
“There certainly wasn’t enough desperation, right from the get-go,” Holmgren said. “They were a desperate team; they are still in a playoff hunt. I don’t think we matched their effort, at all.
“Unfortunately, we took a couple steps backward in my mind.”
Notes: Florida C Chris Gratton played in his 999th NHL game. Gratton has also played with Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Phoenix, Colorado. … Flyers C Mike Richards left the game in the third period with a separated left shoulder and is expected to be out up to 10 days. D Denis Gauthier sustained a wrist injury. The extent was not immediately known. … Flyers D Derian Hatcher, who had scored in two straight games after going 125 without a goal, had his streak snapped. … Philadelphia’s Simon Gagne (groin) and Scottie Upshall (shoulder) didn’t play. The Flyers recalled C Ryan Potulny from the Phantoms, their AHL affiliate in Philadelphia.