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Vokoun blanks former team as Panthers top Predators

By Rick Menning

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- Tomas Vokoun stopped all 27 shots

he faced for his second consecutive shutout as the Florida

Panthers blanked his former team, the Nashville Predators, 3-0,

on Tuesday.

Michael Frolik netted a pair of goals and Cory Stillman also

tallied for Florida.

Rookie Pekka Rinne, who posted three shutouts in the month of

December, finished with 40 saves for Nashville.

After stopping all 23 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Colorado

Avalanche on Sunday, Vokoun stopped 12 shots in the first

period, six in the second and nine in the third for his third

shutout of the season and 28th career.

"The guys are playing great in front of me," Vokoun said. "It's

a streaky thing. You have nights when you are seeing the puck

well and the breaks are going your way. You try to ride the


The Czech played with the Predators from 1998-2007.

"It's nice to get a win like that, especially against a former

team," Vokoun said. "You're not going to get something like

(back-to-back shutouts) unless your team is playing sound


The Panthers went on the attack midway through the second

period, and capitalized when Frolik's wrist shot from the right

circle off a cross-ice pass from defenseman Nick Boynton found

its way over Rinne's outstretched glove with 6:48 remaining in

the session.

"I kind of knew they would shoot from anywhere. They had a good

start and we didn't have too much going on," Rinne said. "It

was a rough night from our side."

The play capped a furious few minutes for Florida, which nearly

finished another rush down ice moments earlier when Stephen

Weiss sent a return pass to David Booth on a 2-on-1 break, but

Booth couldn't get his stick on the puck.

"I'm handling the puck more and gaining a lot of confidence,"

Frolik said. "My teammates gave me some scoring opportunities.

I'm settling in nicely and getting comfortable."

Frolik, who entered the game with nine points in his last 10

games, nearly scored again on a partial breakaway, but was

denied by Rinne. He finished the period with five scoring


"I felt really good the entire period," Frolik said. "I didn't

realize I had that many chances, but I'm getting more ice time

with my linemates and that's really helping me."

Florida outshot Nashville, 17-6, in the second period, and held

a 32-18 advantage over the first 40 minutes.

"We got after them pretty good and our pressure resulted in some

chances and we were able to capitalize," Florida coach Peter

DeBoer said. "Getting that first goal was huge."

Nashville coach Barry Trotz echoed DeBoer's sentiments.

"The way both teams were going defensively, we score that first

goal and we're probably sitting here going, we won 1-0 or 2-0,

whatever it may be," Trotz said. "We did enough good things. We

just didn't do enough to win the game."

Trotz said Vokoun's play brought back memories of the

goaltender's time in Nashville.

"He looks like the dominant goalie we had for years," Trotz said

Despite Nashville picking up the pace in the third period, the

Panthers struck for an insurance tally with just over four

minutes left when Stillman knocked in Richard Zednik's initial

shot from point-blank range. Rinne made the initial save, but

Zednik fed Stillman for the eventual tally.

"We have all the confidence in the world right now," Weiss said.

"The way both our goalies (Vokoun and Craig Anderson) are

playing lately, we feel like we have a chance to win every


Nashville had the better of the scoring chances in the first

period, and nearly went ahead just minutes into the action when

captain Jason Arnott's shot from the left side got past Vokoun

but hit the far post.

"It's totally frustrating when you can't put the puck in the

net," Predators right wing Martin Erat said. "(Vokoun) played

great. He was at the top of his game tonight."



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