NEW YORK – Craig Anderson is making Tomas Vokoun’s starting job look tenuous.
Anderson got the call for the second straight game over Vokoun and made Florida coach Peter DeBoer’s somewhat surprising decision pay off with a 37-save shutout in the Panthers’ 4-0 victory against the New York Rangers on Sunday.
“I thought he would go back to Vokie,” he said. “I want the ball, I want to be playing. I enjoy playing for these guys. I’ll be ready whenever called upon.”
Anderson was steady in his second shutout this season and sixth in the NHL. He stopped 43 shots in Friday’s shootout loss to the Rangers on the heels of a solid relief appearance for Vokoun in another shootout defeat against New Jersey on Wednesday.
DeBoer announced that Anderson will start again Tuesday at Washington.
“You never know if you’re right or wrong in those situations,” DeBoer said. “He’s given us good goaltending all year. We’re at the point now that whoever is winning games and getting us points is going to play.”
Stephen Weiss and Gregory Campbell scored 12 seconds apart in the second period to give Anderson all the offence he needed.
The Panthers were already without injured forwards Richard Zednik, Cory Stillman and Nathan Horton when then they lost David Booth after the second period to a shoulder injury. Booth had scored in four straight games, but is questionable for Tuesday.
Booth said sitting out was precautionary and added he felt the injury was minor.
“Everyone seems to be playing well, so it was just a matter of time before pucks go in,” Booth said. “Anybody can go on a streak, so it’s encouraging to see what we did.”
With Florida leading 1-0 on a breakaway goal in the second by Ville Peltonen, Weiss and Campbell connected quickly to knock out Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist for the second time in three home games.
Rookie centre Michael Frolik added a goal and assist for the Panthers.
Lundqvist got the win at Florida at the start of the home-and-home series, but was gone with 3:47 left in the second period after allowing three goals on 23 shots. The Madison Square Garden crowd on “Kids Day” booed the Rangers off the ice after they were outshot 16-7 in the period.
“We just let the game slip away,” Rangers coach Tom Renney said. “We’re not paid to lose.”
The Rangers (17-8-2) were shut out for the first time this season and had a three-game winning streak snapped.
Peltonen got things going 9:55 into the second, after he was sprung free by a backward pass in the Florida zone by Radek Dvorak. Peltonen settled a bouncing puck and snapped a shot over Lundqvist’s blocker. He was stopped on another breakaway attempt earlier in the period.
One shift after Weiss limped off the ice after blocking Michal Rozsival’s shot during New York’s power play, he outworked the Rangers in the corner and gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead with his third goal at 16:01.
The Panthers, who totaled 11 goals in their previous five games, kept coming on the next shift. Dvorak beat forward Brandon Dubinsky to a puck in the right corner of the Rangers zone and made a perfect feed to Campbell at 16:13.
Lundqvist was then replaced by Steve Valiquette.
“Henrik was playing well. That wasn’t the issue at all,” Renney said. “I’m not sure about the skaters.”
Lundqvist was also yanked during the Rangers’ 6-3 loss to Vancouver on Nov. 19 when he gave up five goals on 17 shots. That marked the only time in his last 17 starts – including Sunday – that he yielded more than three goals.
“Obviously I want to play,” Lundqvist said. “A couple of quick plays and it was 3-0. I felt they outworked us in the second period and it paid off.”
Valiquette wasn’t treated much better at 1:00 of the third period when Frolik made it 4-0 with his second NHL goal in 20 career games during a 2-on-1.
Anderson preserved his shutout during a Rangers power play when he sprawled on his stomach to block Chris Drury’s drive 6 minutes into the third.
Notes: The Rangers had won six of eight, with four wins coming in shootouts. … Florida improved to 4-8-1 on the road. … New York was 0-for-5 on the power play including a late 5-on-3 advantage for 1:45.