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Jokinen scores three goals to power Panthers to 5-2 victory over Penguins

Jokinen scored three goals to help the Florida Panthers to a 5-2 victory Wednesday night. He has eight goals in six games against Pittsburgh during the last two seasons. "It's funny how some guys feel really good against certain teams," Penguins forward Mark Recchi said. "He's obviously very comfortable against us."

It was Jokinen's third career hat trick and second this season.

"It's always nice to score goals, but it goes hand-in-hand with your top players being at their best and giving your team a chance to win," Jokinen said.

Jozef Stumpel and Martin Gelinas each had a goal and two assists for Florida, which improved to 4-0-1 in its last five at home.

The Panthers have won 14 of their last 15 against Pittsburgh, including a 2-0 mark this season.

Evgeni Malkin and Colby Armstrong scored for Pittsburgh, which has lost three in a row after winning three straight.

"It's a process for us," coach Michel Therrien said. "It can be very frustrating for us, with a young team."

Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, the NHL's leading scorer, was held without a point for only the second time in his last 14 games. He had a breakaway in the first period, but Alex Auld made a glove save on his wrist shot.

"We had the opportunity to change the momentum, whether it's a big goal or a big save, but we couldn't do it," Crosby said. "We have to figure out a way to win when we're not playing our best game."

Auld stopped 23 shots for Florida, while Jocelyn Thibault, making his first start in eight games for Pittsburgh, had 34 saves.

"It seems like they score a lot of goals against us," Thibault said. "What can I say? I wish I could have stopped them more."

Jokinen scored in each period, tipping in a pass from Jay Bouwmeester in the first and blasting one-time slap shots past Thibault in the second and third.

Florida took a 2-1 lead into the third period before Jokinen completed his hat trick 3:23 in. Stumpel scored 18 seconds later to make it 4-1.

"(Jokinen) is a top player and that's what you expect from your captain," Florida coach Jacques Martin said. "It's nice to see a strong performance. We are going to need those kinds of performances going forward."

Notes: Jokinen's other hat tricks came Nov. 15, 2006, against Montreal and Nov. 25, 2005, also against Pittsburgh. ... Florida RW Juraj Kolnik returned after missing two games because of a groin injury. ... Pittsburgh D Josef Melichar left late in the second period with a leg injury and didn't return. He was to be further evaluated Thursday. ... Crosby had three goals and five assists in his first five career games against Florida.


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