Fri. Mar 5th, 2021

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Keith Yandle got his 100th career goal, Chris Driedger made 23 saves and the Florida Panthers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Sunday night.

Eetu Luostarinen scored his first NHL goal, and Aaron Ekblad, Patric Hornqvist, and Jonathan Huberdeau also scored for Florida, which had three goals in the third period to pull away in its delayed opener. The Panthers were to have played Dallas last week twice, games that were called off because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the Stars.

Alex DeBrincat and Connor Murphy scored for the Blackhawks. Collin Delia stopped 24 shots.

As late as last Friday, it seemed as if Yandle was going to be scratched from this game and break his string of playing in 866 consecutive regular-season games, the longest active streak in the NHL. Instead, Yandle scored the goal and extended his streak to 867.

Yandle, whose status on Florida’s active roster was a hot topic during camp, scored in the second period. His goal made it 2-0, and he celebrated wildly afterward — a bit of an uncharacteristic reaction for the veteran defenseman.


The Blackhawks are 0-3-0, the first time they have not managed even one point in the season’s first three games since 1997-98. This is only the 10th time it has happened in the franchise’s 94 seasons.


Yandle’s streak of games played is the fourth-longest in NHL history. He trails Doug Jarvis (964 games from 1975 through 1987), Garry Unger (914 games from 1968 through 1979) and Steve Larmer (884 games from 1982 through 1993) on the all-time list. Yandle has not missed a game since March 22, 2009, when he was with the Arizona Coyotes.


Patrick Kane’s assist on Chicago’s first goal was his 634th career regular-season assist. That tied Neal Broten for eighth place on the NHL’s all-time list among U.S.-born players.


Of the 22 players on the opening night roster, only 10 played a game with Florida in 2019-20.


The Panthers were 29th in the 31-team league in attendance last season but are the early leaders this season. They drew 4.147 for the opener; that’s more than the 2,329 that the Arizona Coyotes averaged in their first two home games. The Panthers and Coyotes are the only teams so far to have fans. Dallas, which is scheduled to open Friday, is also planning to have fans.

The Panthers currently allow up to 25% capacity at games.


The teams finish their two-game set on Tuesday.

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