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Panthers look to keep Lightning at bay

Tampa Bay (8-16-9) at Florida (16-13-4), 7:30 pm EST

SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- The Florida Panthers will try to

make life a bit easier for their goaltender this time around.

The club opens a home-and-home series with the Tampa Lightning

on Friday at the BankAtlantic Center.

When the teams last got together on November 18, the Panthers

managed a 4-3 win in the shootout despite squandering a

three-goal lead and allowing 52 shots.

It was the goaltending of Tomas Vokoun that preserved that

victory and, the way the Czech netminder has played lately,

he'll be ready for anything the Lightning can throw at him.

Vokoun recorded a 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators on

Tuesday to earn his second straight shutout and secure his third

victory in four starts.

Craig Anderson has been equally effective in net for Florida

during December - posting a 4-2-0 record - and the club comes

into this contest on a 9-2-3 run, including a 5-1-1 mark over

the last seven games.

Rookie center Michael Frolik is starting to heat up for Florida

as well, registering 11 points in his last 11 games.

While their cross-state rivals are thriving, Tampa Bay owns the

second-worst record in the league, ahead of only the New York

Islanders (10-21-3).

The Lightning are 3-5-9 under interim coach Rick Tocchet, who

took over for the fired Barry Melrose on November 15.

The clubs meet again Saturday at the St. Pete Times Forum.

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