SUNRISE, Fla. – Tomas Vokoun made 41 saves for the Florida Panthers on Saturday night, but his most important might have been the one he didn’t see.
Vokoun’s leg stopped Patrice Bergeron’s wraparound shot in the third period to keep the puck out of the net and preserve the Panthers’ 2-0 victory over the Boston Bruins.
“I didn’t see it because I was facing the other way. I just knew that the guy was try and wrap it and I was just trying to at least put some part of my body in the way,” Vokoun said. “Playing this game, you need, sometimes, really good fortune. That was definitely a lot of luck.”
Play was briefly halted to review Vokoun’s save. Had Bergeron’s shot been ruled a goal, the game would have been tied at 1-all, and Radek Dvorak’s second goal of the night would have been disallowed.
“That particular play, you think about the change in momentum if that’s in,” Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. “Our goal’s disallowed and they get a goal and it’s 1-1. So obviously, that’s a pivotal moment in the game. And he was outstanding tonight, nothing short of that. Gave us the chance to win and that’s the type of goaltending we need down the stretch.”
It was the sixth shutout of the season and second in three games for Vokoun, who stopped 36 shots in Florida’s 4-0 victory over New Jersey on Tuesday night. The Panthers have an NHL-high nine shutouts overall this season.
“We had 41 shots but I don’t think that was the true story,” Boston goalie Tim Thomas said. “It wasn’t that Vokoun was ravenous and we had open nets and he had open net saves. I think they did a good job of keeping us out of the house.”
Florida, 14-5-3 in the new year, was coming off a 4-0 loss to Chicago on Thursday night, but has not dropped two consecutive games in regulation since late December. With the win, the Panthers moved into a tie with the Rangers and Sabres for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. All three teams have 68 points, but the Panthers have played 59 games, while Buffalo and New York have played 60.
Thomas made 27 saves for Boston, which has been dominating the Southeast Division – and the Panthers – this season. The Bruins had already defeated the Panthers twice, recording a 4-2 win on Nov. 21 and a 4-0 victory on Dec. 6.
“I thought we skated well, we had the energy to do it,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “As the game went we got sloppier and sloppier. There comes a time in the season where you have to convince your guys to start doing the dirty work. Maybe things have been too good for us, maybe it’s time we got our noses dirty again.”
Dvorak scored a short-handed goal on a breakaway at 1:44 in the third period to give Florida a 1-0 lead. His wrist shot from the right circle went into the top of the net. His second goal of the night came at 6:44 in the third. Dvorak took a pass from Gregory Campbell and beat Thomas with a shot from in front of the right circle.
“It’s a great feeling, especially when you’re winning,” Dvorak said. “Any time you have a chance to help the team win a hockey game, it’s great.”
The Bruins will wrap up a five-game trip in Tampa Bay on Sunday and open a six-game homestand against Florida on Tuesday night.
Notes: The Panthers have posted a 23-10-7 record since their Nov. 21 loss to Boston. … The Bruins are 12-3-1 in their last 16 road games. … Boston D Andrew Ference played in his 500th NHL game Saturday night. … Boston D Zdeno Chara needs two goals for the 100th of his NHL career.