TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Tomas Vokoun kept the Panthers in the game with series of big saves. Richard Zednik make sure the effort was not in vain.
Zednik scored the go-ahead goal with 1:05 left in the third and Vokoun made 44 saves, leading Florida past the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Saturday night.
Coupled with Friday's 4-3 win over Vancouver, the Panthers moved within three points of front-running Carolina and Atlanta in the Southeast Division.
"If we want to go ahead of them, we have to win," Vokoun said. "It's tough to win when you give up so many chances. We won, and that's positive."
Zednik's 10th goal of the season came on an in-close rebound after Jassen Cullimore's shot went off the end boards. Olli Jokinen had pulled the Panthers even at 2 on a power-play goal from the slot at 14:04 of the third.
Jay Bouwmeester also scored for the Panthers, who won the fourth time in the last 10 games.
"We really needed this," Cullimore said. "The main thing right now is get points."
The Lightning got goals from Chris Gratton and Vinny Prospal. Rookie Karri Ramo had 29 saves.
"I don't look at Florida beating us, I look at us self-destructing," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "It's a tough one."
Tampa Bay, last in the Eastern Conference, had a season-high 46 shots.
"We just can't have many more of these," Tortorella said. "We're out of time."
Bouwmeester put the Panthers up 1-0 during a 3-on-1 just 3 minutes into the first. Kamil Kreps nearly gave Florida a two-goal lead midway through the period, but his shot during a short-handed 2-on-1 hit the post.
|Florida Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun, left, makes a save against Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier during the third period on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)|
The Lightning outshot Florida 18-7 during the first. Vokoun made several strong saves, including one on Martin St. Louis' in-close shot.
Shortly after Ramo stopped David Booth's backhander, Gratton tied it at 1 with a rebound goal at 4:12 of the second. Tampa Bay kept the pressure on, but Vokoun stopped in-close tries by St. Louis and Brad Richards.
The Lightning took a 2-1 lead on Prospal's rebound goal with 1:43 left in the second. The goal came on Tampa Bay's 35th shot of the game. Prospal has a goal in three straight games.
Ramo preserved the one-goal advantage by stopping Nathan Horton on a breakaway with 25 seconds left in the second.
Vokoun kept the Panthers within one midway through the third when he made a diving stick save on Richards' rebound slot shot.
"I think we've got to find a way (to be) a little bit tighter defensively," Vokoun said. "It didn't hurt us tonight. We have to play better, there's no question about that."
Notes: Florida C Jozef Stumpel missed the game with a slight shoulder separation. ... The Panthers recalled LW Stefan Meyer and C David Brine from Rochester of the AHL. Meyer didn't play, while Brine made his NHL debut. ... Tampa Bay's third round pick in the 2006 amateur draft, D Kevin Quick, has been dismissed from the University of Michigan hockey team for violating team rules. "We are disappointed that his actions led to such a disciplinary measure being taken," Lightning GM Jay Feaster said in astatement. The team has not yet spoken with Quick, but did discuss his hockey future with his family adviser.