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Vokoun, Panthers blank Avalanche

By Rick Menning

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- Tomas Vokoun stopped all 23 shots

he faced as the Florida Panthers recorded a 3-0 triumph over the

Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.

Brett McLean netted his first goal of the season in the second

period and Richard Zednik and defenseman Bryan McCabe also

tallied for Florida, which finally won a game in regulation on

its home ice against the Avalanche.

Not since the then-Quebec Nordiques lost, 4-2, at Miami Arena in

1995 has Florida found a way to get past that franchise in South

Florida.

Vokoun stopped three shots in the first period, eight in the

second and 12 in the third to notch his second shutout of the

season and 27th career.

"It was tough mentally because I didn't have a lot of chances

early," Vokoun said. "I had to fight through the lack of

involvement and get steady in a hurry (in the third period)."

Peter Budaj finished with 21 saves for Colorado, which fell to

11-2-0 all-time against the Panthers.

"I think they came out really hard and frankly outplayed us

(those first two periods)," Budaj said. "In the third period we

were all over them and we played a really strong game, but

hockey is a game of 60 minutes."

The Panthers, who had several good scoring chances in the first

period, cashed in on their aggressive play when McLean tipped in

a perfect feed from Nick Tarnasky for his first goal this

season.

"When you work hard you get rewarded, and that's not only Brett

(McLean) but also all the guys. They've been executing and

following the system," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said.

It was the 50th career goal for McLean, who was parked in front

of the crease and redirected the puck past Budaj at 5:26 of the

second period.

"I just happened to be in the right spot," McLean said. "You put

yourself in a position to score and sometimes it works out."

Vokoun, making his second straight start, proved more than up to

the challenge when Colorado took the play to the Panthers

throughout much of the third period.

"He was a real rock for us in that (third) period)," DeBoer

said. "He gave us an opportunity time and again to regain our

composure."

Coming off a 3-1-1 road trip, Florida increased its advantage to

2-0 with just over seven minutes to play in the second as Zednik

lifted a backhander under the crossbar past Budaj.

Colorado coach Tony Granato said the goals were the culmination

of Florida's persistence in the offensive zone.

"I thought we would be sharper early and have better jump,"

Granato said. "They controlled the play for the first 20

minutes. By the time we got our legs underneath us, it was too

late."

Florida dodged a bullet late in the second period. Defenseman

John-Michael Liles capped a flurry of chances with a shot just

after time had expired to keep Vokoun's shutout alive.

"Collectively, we all weren't ready. No excuses, we fell short

tonight," left wing Ryan Smyth said. "I thought we played a good

solid third but that was too late. You've got to give them a lot

of credit."

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