Practice made perfect for Olli Jokinen
The Florida captain showed off one of the shootout moves he practiced over the summer, beating Steve Valiquette
in the fifth round to give the Panthers a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers
After Valiquette and Florida’s Tomas Vokoun
stopped four rounds of shooters, Jokinen snapped a wrist shot though the goaltender’s legs to put Florida in front. The Panthers skated off the BankAtlantic Center ice with the win when Chris Drury
, who had both Rangers goals in regulation, hit the outside of the net on his attempt.
Jokinen has taken a fresh approach to the shootout after missing on five of his six tries last season. “It sounds funny but for the first time in my life I was practicing moves all summer and I told a couple guys I've got some new moves,'' he said. ''They asked me to show them those moves, and I said, ‘I'll wait for a game.’ I don't think I've scored one in practice doing my old stuff.''
The Panthers briefly thought they had won the game in overtime when Steve Montador
’s slap shot sailed past Valiquette, who made only his second start of the season as the Rangers rested starter Henrik Lundqvist
. But Panthers forward Richard Zednik
was called for holding in the offensive zone just before the puck went into the net.
Florida was able not only able to survive Zednik’s penalty, but the Panthers nearly made the Rangers pay for using four forwards on the 4-on-3 power play when Jozef Stumpel
went in alone on a breakaway. Stumpel, who was stopped by Valiquette on a third-period breakaway, beat him this time but hit the left post.
All that did was delay the victory for the Panthers, who’ve won three of their last four — and leave Valiquette wondering how he missed Jokinen’s shot.
“The goal they did score — I don’t know how I missed it,” he said after the Rangers’ five-goal road winning streak ended.
Valiquette was not happy at having to settle for one point. “Winning a game in the shootout is the best feeling you will get in the regular season,” he said. “Even though we got one point, there’s no satisfaction in losing. I may get a little excited when I go back and look at the tape, but right now I’m disappointed.”
The Panthers were happy to go home with a win despite Valiquette’s 33-save effort, including 19 in the first period.
“I think we played the best game we've played all year," Vokoun said. "We got some great chances. Their goalie played great."
Florida totally dominated the first period, outshooting the Rangers 19-6, but New York skated off with the lead when Drury fired the rebound of Michal Rozsival
’s shot past Vokoun with 7.7 seconds left.
“Valiquette kept us in the game in the first period,” Rangers forward Brendan Shanahan
“We thought we played well after that.”
Florida finally got one past Valiquette at 10:53 of the second period when David Booth
broke down the left side, cut in past defenseman Dan Girardi
and put a backhander into the net off the left post. Stephen Weiss
’ power-play goal 1:06 into the third period put Florida ahead for the first time.
The Rangers failed to convert on 1:07 of a 5-on-3 power play — Valiquette kept them in the game by stopping Stumpel’s breakaway — but they did cash in on the one-man advantage at 16:10 when Drury dunked a pass from Scott Gomez
Despite the loss, Rangers coach Tom Renney had nothing but praise for Valiquette. ''He was terrific,'' Renney said of his backup netminder. ''He stood tall and gave us a chance to get two points. We managed to come away with one — and that's something.''
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report