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Vokoun blanks former team as Panthers top Predators

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The Hockey News
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Vokoun blanks former team as Panthers top Predators

PA Stats Inc
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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
wave."

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
hockey."

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
chances.

"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
game."

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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Vokoun blanks former team as Panthers top Predators