SUNRISE – Just in case you were wondering if this year’s Panthers and Tomas Vokoun could bounce back from a tough loss, the team left 16,087 at BankAtlantic Center with a parting gift Saturday evening before heading out on a two game road trip.
A solid 2-0 shutout of the Islanders.
Just 48 hours after a sloppy loss to Minnesota, the Panthers regrouped and put together a solid effort behind goals from Nick Boynton and Cory Stillman (power play) and a 31-save performance by Vokoun, who registered his 26th NHL shutout.
“It was a good effort,” said coach Peter DeBoer, who’s Panthers (2-2) hit the road Sunday for games Monday in Montreal and Wednesday in Ottawa. “I thought Tomas was real solid tonight. He was as disappointed if not more disappointed in his effort the other night than anyone.”
Vokoun, who was benched in the third period Thursday after allowing four goals, made several key stops including a breakaway save on Mike Comrie in the second period.
“The first game (against Carolina) and the third game (against Minnesota) I definitely wasn’t very good,” he said. “It cost us maybe some points. I’m not the kind you should be worried about. I’m one of the highest paid players on the team, so my performance has to be a lot better than that and I know that. Sometimes things don’t always work out the way you want, but you have to work hard.”
The Panthers did that Saturday evening, and it was important for a team seeking a good start and trying to create a better identity.
“We didn’t compete on Thursday,” said defenseman Keith Ballard. “That’s one thing we said. We have to come out and play hard. Everyone has to be responsible.”
And so they were. With a 2-0 lead going into the third period, the Panthers denied the Islanders any odd-man breaks while still managing to get the puck into the Islanders’ zone.
Panthers Shut Out Islanders (AP Story)
Thomas Vokoun knew he needed to raise his game after being battered by the Minnesota Wild....more
“We had a good (penalty) kill (at 10:45) and I think that added to our momentum,” said defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. “We knew they’d start stretching guys (in the third period). We tried to not give up to much and preserve the lead, but we just didn’t sit back totally.
The Panthers came out strong and didn’t waste any time Saturday evening when they scored just 24 seconds into the game.
Ballard wound up from the left point and took a shot that hit the post. The puck ricochet to the right boards where Nick Boynton slapped it past goalie Rick DiPietro, playing his first regular-game since March 15. His only previous action was 12 nights earlier during a 6-0 preseason loss.
After an exciting, back-and-forth first period, the Panthers made it 2-0 on the power play at 8:58 of the second period when Cory Stillman scored his second of the year.
Stillman, standing to the side of DiPietro, passed the puck into the high slot to Nathan Horton. But with no shot at the net, Horton slid it back to Stillman, who wristed the puck in the top corner of the net for his second goal of the season.
The Panthers, who took 36 shots, had several good chances but DiPietro played well, stopping Radek Dvorak on the breakaway in the second period and Richard Zednik in front of the net in the third.
For the Panthers, Saturday night was “a matter of us coming back and rebounding,” Stillman said.
“The team has to learn to win whether we’re up two goals or behind two goals,” he said.
Bryan Allan (knee) did not play. Healthy scratches were Anthony Stewart and Michael Frolik. The Islanders scratched Joshua Bailey, Radek Martinek and Mitchell Fritz…Gregory Campbell won eight of 11 faceoffs...