Frolik's three-point night helps Panthers clip Flyers

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By Rick Menning

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- The Florida Panthers avenged a

shootout loss earlier this month with the help of a rookie.

Michael Frolik recorded a goal and two assists as the Panthers

skated to a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

David Booth and Frolik scored second-period goals to put the

Panthers ahead, 3-1, in the second meeting between the clubs at

the BankAtlantic Center in 11 days.

"At the start of the season, I didn't get much ice time. But we

had a couple injuries and now I'm playing more and more, and the

coach started believing in me more and more," Frolik said. "I'm

trying to be more comfortable and confident."

Philadelphia cut the deficit to one just 1:51 into the third

period, when rookie Claude Giroux netted his first career goal

by beating goaltender Tomas Vokoun to the stick side with a

one-timer.

"Every kid's dream is to score in the National Hockey League,"

Giroux said. "Now that I have that out of the way, I can get

back to working to play better and help the team down the

stretch."

Vokoun, who made 11 saves in each period, was tested a number of

times late in the third but stood tall to improve to 5-1-2 in

his last eight decisions.

"Sometimes you just have to get the breaks," Vokoun said. "The

guys played well in front of me, and we were able to hold them

off at the end."

Ranking in the top 10 in scoring among NHL rookies with 23

points, Frolik snapped a 1-1 tie when his shot from along the

end line to Martin Biron's left found its way under the

goaltender's pad at 7:43 of the middle session.

"After Vokoun, he was our best player tonight," Florida coach

Peter DeBoer said of Frolik. "I thought he did an outstanding

job for a guy who basically just got back into town from the

All-Star (Weekend)."

With Simon Gagne serving a double-minor for high-sticking, Booth

deflected a shot by defenseman Keith Ballard from just inside

the blue line past Biron just over four minutes later for a

two-goal advantage.

"It took us a period to get our legs back after the (All-Star)

break, but we picked ourselves up and got things going pretty

good in the second (period)," Ballard said. "We started to play

with a purpose and with more intensity."

Philadelphia coach John Stevens believed his team started strong

but fell victim to penalties in the second period.

"I thought we were doing fine, but then they get five straight

power-play opportunities and we're on the penalty kill for 10

minutes," Stevens said. "It's tough."

Gagne, who netted the decisive goal in Philadelphia's 3-2

shootout win over Florida here on January 16, picked up where he

left off by opening the scoring with his 20th goal midway

through the first period.

The puck deflected off Gagne's skate at 10:44 as he was trying

to pull up for a tip-in on the right side of Vokoun. A video

review determined Gagne did not intentionally kick the puck into

the net, giving the Flyers the early lead.

"You could look at that six times and not see the same thing,"

DeBoer said. "I'm going to leave that (decision) to the powers

whose job it is to make those determinations."

Florida knotted it up just under four minutes later, when

defenseman Bryan McCabe took advantage of a partial screen and

fired the puck between the pads of Biron with 5:26 remaining for

his ninth goal.

Ballard thinks players like Frolik and Booth, who have combined

for 30 goals this season, have been the difference in the

Panthers going 6-1-3 this month.

"Confidence works wonders, and those guys are playing with a

tremendous amount of it right now," Ballard said. "They are the

reason we're in the (playoff) hunt."

Biron turned aside 24 shots.

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