SUNRISE, Fla. – Given his first shootout opportunity of the season, Richard Zednik came up with another big goal for the Florida Panthers.
Zednik scored the only goal in the shootout, and Tomas Vokoun stopped all four New York attempts in the surging Panthers 2-1 victory over the Rangers on Friday night.
“We haven’t had much luck in shootouts lately, so I thought I’d mix it up a little bit there and threw Richard in there,” Florida coach Pete DeBoer said. “He’s had a hot hand lately and he buried a big goal at a big time for us. He’ll get another opportunity for sure.”
Zednik, who scored in overtime Tuesday night against Toronto, beat Henrik Lundqvist with a wrist shot between the legs.
“I saw an opening between his legs and I wanted to shoot it quick,” Zednik said. “I didn’t want to come too close and have him poke it away. I shot it a little early and it went in.”
Vokoun ended the shootout when he stopped Nikolai Zherdev’s backhander off a deke.
Vokoun also stopped Markus Naslund, Nigel Dawes and Ryan Callahan in the tiebreaker. Lundqvist stopped Cory Stillman, Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss before Zednik scored on Florida’s fourth attempt.
“He’s amazing,” Zednik said about Vokoun. “All their shooters, they have great skills and they made great moves on him, and he was there.”
Michael Frolik scored in regulation for Florida. The Panthers, tied with Buffalo for seventh place in the Eastern Conference, are 12-3-3 since Jan. 1.
Fredrik Sjostrom scored for New York. The Rangers are 1-4-2 in their last seven.
“Right now we take what we can get,” Lundqvist said. “We can’t be satisfied with just one point. We definitely need the two-pointers. It’s disappointing not to get it. The way the game played out in the third, it could have gone either way.”
Vokoun, coming off a 42-save shutout at Carolina on Thursday night, stopped 34 shots in regulation and overtime.
Lundqvist made 42 saves.
“He played an outstanding game,” Naslund said. “It’s tough to go four shooters and not score for him. He deserves the win just by keeping us in the game the whole time and in the shootout saving the first three. We need to score.”
Florida improved to 3-6 in shootouts, while the Rangers dropped to 9-4.
“I’ve been lucky this year,” Lundqvist said. “Our guys have been good this year scoring for us and it’s been a lot easier for me to shut the door and win the shootout. But tonight we had a tough time scoring.”
In addition to overtime, the teams played a scoreless third period. Horton had the best scoring opportunity of the period on a power play. He grabbed a loose puck in the high slot while Lundqvist was down, but couldn’t lift his wrist shot over the goalie.
The Rangers had a power play late in the third period, but failed to score. They were 0-for-3 with the man advantage, putting them at 0-for-14 in their last three games and 1 for their last 26.
“The power play and the shootout as well, not being able to get one there is frustrating,” Naslund said. “I don’t know where to begin with the power play. We need to simplify and get shots, but it doesn’t seem to want to go our way.”
Sjostrom opened the scoring with 2:46 left in the first period when he jammed home a rebound in the crease. Frolik tied it at 2:37 of the second. After Stillman’s pass from behind the net was deflected, Frolik spun around and beat Lundqvist through the legs.
“It was intense. The crowd was great. It was good hockey,” Rangers coach Tom Renney said. “Very entertaining.”
Notes: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman attended the game. … Rangers D Dimitri Kalinin missed his fifth consecutive game because of an upper-body injury. … The Panthers lead the season series 2-1, with one game left on Feb. 26 in New York.