Vokoun leads charge as Panthers blank Devils - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Vokoun leads charge as Panthers blank Devils

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SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- Tomas Vokoun gave the New Jersey

Devils a taste of their own medicine.

Four days after Scott Clemmensen completed his second straight

shutout, Vokoun turned aside all 36 shots he faced as the

Florida Panthers blanked the Devils, 4-0, on Tuesday.

Richard Zednik and Stephen Weiss each recorded a goal and an

assist and Nathan Horton and Cory Stillman each tallied for

Florida, which has won four of its last five contests.

"Any points at this point is huge," Vokoun said. "We need the

points regardless of who we play. It's a confidence boost; it

shows what we're doing works and if we stick to it and do it

hard, then most of the time we're going to have a good result."

The 32-year-old Vokoun turned aside 13 shots in both the first

and second periods and made 10 saves in the third to notch his

fifth shutout of the season and 30th career. He also improved

to 10-1-0 when making 30-plus saves at home this season.

"We came out hard," Vokoun said. "We came out strong today and

played smart hockey throughout the game. Our penalty killing

was huge today."

Clemmensen stopped 24 shots for the Devils, who saw their

four-game winning streak come to an end.

"They got some good bounces go their way, especially in our end,

and down at the other end, we didn't get much going either,"

Clemmensen said. "It was just one of those games where you

might say we were going uphill against the wind."

New Jersey had won 13 of its previous 15 and was coming off a

rousing offensive effort in a 6-5 triumph over the Western

Conference-leading San Jose Sharks on Sunday. However, the

Devils' offense was nowhere to be seen in this one - thanks to

Vokoun.

"It certainly wasn't one of our better games as far as our

sharpness was concerned," New Jersey coach Brent Sutter said.

"We were sloppy in certain areas and I just don't think we

played like are capable of playing."

The Panthers were outshot, 36-28, but Vokoun was brilliant in

collecting his second shutout in four contests.

"Everybody here (in the locker room) knows we can play with

anybody in the league," Vokoun said. "There are no easy games.

You have to prepare for every game; nobody's going to give you

an inch. We're executing our game plan and that's been the key

for us because when we do that we are successful."

Vokoun, who has surrendered one goal in his last three wins

combined, received all the help he needed at 4:18 of the first

period, when Weiss fired a hard wrist shot from the slot past

Clemmensen for his 10th tally of the season.

"We were just focused on having a good game," Weiss said. "We

knew how good (New Jersey) is, being a veteran club and all. We

got off to a good start and for the most part limited their

chances as much as possible."

Zednik doubled the lead with 8:33 left in the second by wristing

the puck into the vacant net while stationed inside the left

faceoff circle. Horton gave Florida a 3-0 advantage just over 2

1/2 minutes later.

"We were opportunistic," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "Our

goalie made some big saves at key times for us and we scored

some timely goals.

"I don't think we caught New Jersey on their best night, but

we'll take it. You have to get points and we got two points.

To get to where we want to go, your best players have to be your

best players."

Stillman secured the victory with 2:54 remaining in the game,

converting a tip-in after collecting Weiss' initial shot.

"It's an important stretch for us, no doubt, but it will go a

long way toward showing what kind of team we are and how we

respond," All-Star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said.

"This certainly gives us confidence with more tough games coming

up."

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