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Vokoun shuts down Blackhawks, Panthers keep rolling with 3-1 victory

CHICAGO - Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun was bombarded with 40-plus shots for the second straight game on Sunday night.

This time, the result was different. Defenceman Jay Bouwmeester recorded a goal and an assist to end an eight-game stretch without a point, and Vokoun made 44 stops in the Panthers' 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

In a 5-2 loss at Detroit on Saturday, Vokoun faced 46 shots. Given that workload, Panthers coach Jacques Martin considered starting backup Craig Anderson against slumping Chicago.

"I wasn't supposed to play, but Jacques changed his mind on the plane and told me I was playing," Vokoun said.

Martin's decision turned out to be the right one. Chicago outshot Florida 45-24 for the game and 22-4 in the first period, when Vokoun made several sharp, close-in saves.

"They came out hard, but we've got to address that," Vokoun said. "Tonight we were lucky in a sense. We won the game, but some other nights this game could have been pretty quickly over.

"You can't put yourself in this situation all the time," he added. "Sooner or later these things will catch up with you."

Rostislav Olesz and Richard Zednik also scored for the Panthers, who are 3-1-1 in their last five games and handed Chicago its second straight loss and sixth in its last seven games.

"We got some scoring from different guys tonight and Tomas was there to cover up for our mistakes," Martin said. "He made some big saves and we were able to capitalize when we had the opportunities."

Rookie Dave Bolland, who netted his first NHL goal, was the only Blackhawk to beat Vokoun. Blackhawks goalie Patrick Lalime made 21 saves.

"We played a heck of a game," Chicago coach Denis Savard said. "We had enough chances to win, but we can't accept losing.

"I talked about being desperate last week," Savard added. "We have to be more desperate."

The loss dropped the Blackhawks to 15-15-2.

"We just have to hate to lose a little more," Chicago rookie forward Jonathan Toews said. "Right now, we don't hate to lose enough."

Although the Blackhawks outshot the Panthers 22-4 in the first period, the game was tied at 1 after 20 minutes thanks to Vokoun - and a couple of missed chances by Chicago.

The Blackhawks' shot total was boosted by a 5-on-3 power play late in the period that lasted 1:43. The Panthers killed the advantage after taking a 1-0 lead on Olesz's goal.

"That was one of the defining moments of the game," Vokoun said.

Olesz had opened the scoring by beating Lalime from the right circle on a rebound of Bouwmeester's shot. Bouwmeester had circled the Chicago net and fired from the high slot, but the puck hit traffic in front of Lalime and popped out to Olesz.

Bolland tied it with 29.7 seconds left in the period. After Vokoun had stopped Brent Sopel's shot through traffic from the right point, Bolland swept through the crease and backhanded in the rebound.

Zednik made it 2-1 at 6:25 of the second period, completing a 3-on-2 break. Trailing in late on the play, Zednik beat Lalime after taking a centring pass from Radek Dvorak.

Bouwmeester's power-play goal with 3:06 left in the second, on a high, screened wrist shot from just inside the blue line, extended the Panthers' lead to 3-1. Both Olesz and Sopel obscured Lalime's view.

Vokoun made one of his best saves at 4:00 of the third, a point-blank pad stop on Dustin Byfuglien.

Notes: The Panthers played only their second game of the season outside the Eastern time zone on Sunday. ... Florida C Brett McLean returned after missing 15 games with a broken right hand. ... Panthers LW Ville Peltonen missed the game with foot injury sustained in a 5-2 loss at Detroit on Saturday. ... Chicago C Jason Williams missed his eighth straight game and 11th in the last 13 with a groin injury. He is out indefinitely. RW Rene Bourque missed his 11th game with a broken thumb. ... Veteran Chicago LW Sergei Samsonov and D Andrei Zyusin were healthy scratches.



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