Panthers 3 FLames 0
CALGARY — Radek Dvorak scored twice and Tomas Vokoun made 27 saves as Florida blanked the Calgary Flames 3-0 on Thursday for the Panthers’ first victory of the season.
After one-goal losses in Edmonton and Vancouver, Florida wrapped up its season-opening Western Canada road trip with a superb all-round game in front of Vokoun, who earned career shutout No. 39.
Vokoun was busiest in the third period making 17 stops as the Flames made a late push, but it was too little and came too late.
Vokoun has always played well against Calgary. In his career versus the Flames, he’s 13-4-4 and lowered his career goals against average to 1.88. Only against the New York Islanders (1.84) has Vokoun compiled a lower career GAA.
The Panthers seized control of the game early in the first period with Dvorak scoring on consecutive shifts.
At 4:20, Marty Reasoner showed great strength shaking off rookie Flames centre Mikael Backlund and whipping a backhand towards the net. Miikka Kiprusoff kicked out his pad to make the stop, but Dvorak swept in the rebound.
Three minutes later, Dvorak darted down the wing and, as he crossed the blue-line, released a wicked slapshot that clanged in off the goal post. Kiprusoff had no chance on the goal with Flames defencemen Steve Staios and T.J. Brodie as well as a Panther forward all blocking his line of sight.
Shawn Matthias also scored for Florida (1-2-0), which now head home to host the Tampa Bay Lightning in their home opener on Saturday.
Before returning to action Saturday night against the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary (1-2-0) will look for answers to its slumbering offence.
Goal scoring is an area the players acknowledged they needed to improve upon entering this season as the Flames finished second-last in that category last year in missing the playoffs.
However, Calgary has been shutout twice and mustered just three goals through its first three games — one of them an empty netter.
Not helping is the continued absence of Daymond Langkow (neck) as well as the recent injury to Rene Bourque (head). Better years are also expected from forwards David Moss (shoulder) and Ales Kotalik (knee), but they are also amongst the Flames’ seven injured players.
Trailing 2-0, Calgary got its first power play halfway through the second period but were held without a shot as the Scotiabank Saddledome crowd of 19,289 started to get restless.
During one stretch in the second the Flames went 12 minutes without a shot, and by the time they departed the ice at the end of the second having amassed just 10 shots they were soundly booed.
Through three games, the Flames top line of Jarome Iginla, Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay have zero points. There was still optimism leading up to Thursday’s game given the trio had combined for 22 shots in those first two games and had generated some dangerous scoring chances.
However, they did not factor against the Panthers with Jokinen’s wrist shot 13 seconds into the game the only shot the line generated before they were split up for the third period.
Florida added an insurance goal at 9:57 of the third when Rostislav Olesz carried the puck up the ice and into the Flames’ end, eventually threading a pass to behind the defence to Matthias who fired a high shot past Kiprusoff.
Kiprusoff finished with 15 saves.
Notes: Staios took the place of Adam Pardy (shoulder) and partnered with rookie Brodie. . . Remaining a healthy scratch was Flames D Cory Sarich, who is stuck at 749 career NHL games.