Booth propels Panthers past Blues

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SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- David Booth recorded a hat trick

and an assist and Tomas Vokoun turned aside 24 shots in his

500th career start as the Florida Panthers posted a 5-3 victory

over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

Nathan Horton and Radek Dvorak also scored for Florida, which

improved to 3-1-0 in its last four contests.

"(Getting the hat trick) feels good," Booth said. "I think it's

more important we got a win because it's so close in the Eastern

Conference right now."

Panthers coach Peter DeBoer was thrilled with Booth's

performance.

"We had a couple of timely goals tonight," DeBoer said.

"(Booth's hat trick) was great; it was good to see David get

rewarded. He's a hard worker and puts a lot of effort into (his

play).

"He was in a little mini-slump there, and it was nice to see him

break out tonight."

Vokoun became the 53rd goaltender to accomplish the feat and

just the seventh active goalie to reach this milestone, joining

Martin Brodeur, Curtis Joseph, Olaf Kolzig, Chris Osgood,

Nikolai Khabibulin and Roberto Luongo.

"It's a nice milestone," Vokoun said. "I'm proud of it."

David Backes scored twice, Brad Boyes also tallied for St.

Louis, which fell to 4-2-0 in its last six games.

"(Two goals) isn't the thing," Backes said. "We have no excuses

tonight. We needed to have our jump and our desperation right

from the drop of the puck and we didn't have it."

"I thought our effort was below the norm," St. Louis coach Andy

Murray said.

Making his 16th consecutive start, Chris Mason turned aside 30

shots for the Blues.

"It was really weird; it was kind of an awkward," Mason said of

playing against Vokoun.

"That's the first time we played against each other, so it was a

little strange."

Booth, who leads the team with 24 goals, netted only one goal in

his last 15 contests. On Saturday, the Detroit native scored

once in each period, capping the hat trick with 2:26 remaining

in the contest.

"It's funny because the last hat trick I had I was struggling up

until that point too," Booth said. "You have to keep working

hard; working things in practice and eventually they'll go in.

When you play with great players, they'll find you."

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