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Keith Yandle, Eetu Luostarinen fuel Panthers past Blackhawks


EditorsNote: 2nd graf, fix spelling of Luostarinen; 4th graf, change 23 to 25; 7th graf, fix spelling of Suter; 11th graf, fix scoring time

Keith Yandle scored an early goal and Eetu Luostarinen snapped a tie in the third period, lifting the Florida Panthers to a 5-2 season-opening win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday in Sunrise, Fla.

Luostarinen and Patric Hornqvist, who also scored, made their Panthers debuts. Yandle, the subject of persistent trade/benching rumors, played his 867th consecutive game -- the longest streak by an NHL defenseman.

Florida was the 30th NHL team to play its season opener this year, with only the Dallas Stars yet to debut.

Panthers backup goalie Chris Driedger made 25 stops to earn the win. Starter Sergei Bobrovsky is not yet in game shape.

Defenseman Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Huberdeau also scored for Florida. Huberdeau added two assists.

Alex DeBrincat and Connor Murphy each scored and Collin Delia made 24 stops for the Blackhawks. But it wasn't enough to prevent Chicago from losing its third straight game to start the season.

Chicago had an apparent goal by Patrick Kane wiped out with 7:28 left in the first period. Pius Suter's spin-around assist was also nullified after the Panthers challenged, and a video review showed that Kane was offside.

The Panthers opened the scoring just 12 seconds into the second period. Ekblad's long shot from beyond the right circle went in with help from a screen by Carter Verhaeghe.

The Panthers doubled the advantage at 5:33, with Yandle scoring his 100th career goal past an out-of-position Delia. After Delia's breakup of a Huberdeau pass, Yandle turned his back on the goal, retrieved the puck and fired it on net in one motion.

Chicago got on the board after Andrew Shaw drew a holding penalty on Yandle. DeBrincat cashed in with a one-timer from the left circle, beating Driedger, who was out of position.

The Blackhawks tied the score 2-2 while playing four on four as Murphy scored 2:53 into the third period. Driedger was screened on the play.

However, Luostarinen scored 22 seconds later to give Florida a 3-2 lead.

The Panthers went up 4-2 with 14:03 left in the third as Hornqvist's intended pass for Huberdeau was unintentionally tipped in by Chicago defenseman Calvin de Haan.

Huberdeau provided the final tally, scoring with 3:05 left.

--Field Level Media

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