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BLOCKAGE: Erik Gudbranson and Panthers Get Down and Dirty to Beat Stars in Opener

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

ST. LOUIS -- Coach Kevin Dineen was extremely happy with the teamwork the Panthers showed on Thursday as Florida had 24 blocked shots.

"That is our overall identity,'' Dineen said. "It's something we acknowledged with our players and is something we take pride in.''

Defenseman Erik Gudbranson made the biggest block of the game when he dove to the ice and got in front of a hard slap shot from Dallas' Brenden Dillon.

The score was tied 2-2 at the time and had that puck gone in, the Panthers could be 0-1 going into Saturday's game in St. Louis instead of the other way around. Marcel Goc scored the first of his two goals 25 seconds after Gudbranson's huge block.

Gudbranson, who said he took the shot in the midsection, briefly left Thursday's game but finished it by playing on four shifts in the final seven minutes.

"I'm fine,'' Gudbranson said after participating in Friday's practice.

"Guys made the sacrifices,'' Panthers goalie Tim Thomas said after the game. "If Gudbranson doesn't block that shot, we don't win the game.''

-- Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov was ejected from Thursday's game along with Dallas' Ryan Garbutt for starting a fight while another fight was going on.

Kulikov said on Friday that he didn't know that teammate Mike Weaver was already battling Antoine Roussel at the time.

"As soon as [Thomas] got the puck I started pulling [Garbutt] away and I didn't know what was going on with Weaver and the other guy,'' Kulikov said.

"I thought it would be a 10-minute misconduct. I didn't know it would be the game. I felt bad leaving five D out there.''

SATURDAY: PANTHERS AT BLUES

When, Where: 8:30 p.m.; Scottrade Center, St. Louis

TV/Radio: FSN; WSBR-740

The series: Blues lead 15-7-3

Scouting report: Both teams are 1-0 to start the year with the Blues kicking off a five-game homestand with a 4-2 win over Nashville. The Blues have won the past two over Florida with the Panthers winning just three of 13 in St. Louis.

 

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