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Vokoun makes 35 saves, leads Panthers past Lightning 4-2

NHL.com @NHL

SUNRISE, Fla. - Tomas Vokoun stopped 35 shots, and the Florida Panthers kept working toward a playoff spot with a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.

Vokoun (30-26-8), the second Panthers goalie to post 30 wins in a season, made 32 saves over the final two periods and held the Lightning scoreless on five power-play opportunities in the second period.

The Panthers entered the game trailing the eighth-place Boston Bruins by four points in the Eastern Conference.

Florida, which finished its seven-game homestand 6-0-1, beat Tampa Bay for the 12th time in 15 games.

The Panthers finished with 27 shots, nine coming in the first period.

Playing with a sense of desperation, the Panthers struck less than four minutes in.

Jay Bouwmeester picked off an errant clearing attempt by goalie Mike Smith, who was caught out of the crease, and converted a one-timer into the far right corner of the open net.

The unassisted power-play goal was the first man-advantage tally given up by the Lightning in five games. Opponents were 0-11 over that stretch.

It was Bouwmeester's career-high 13th goal of the season. His previous best total was 12, set last season.

Junior Lessard tied it for Tampa Bay with his first goal of the season at 6:15 of the second period. Lessard took a pass from Mathieu Darche behind the net and beat Vokoun.

Florida regained the lead at 7:28 when Nathan Horton scored high from between the circles for his 24th goal. The play was set up by a perfect feed from David Booth on the left side.

Vokoun stopped 16 of 17 shots in the second period.

Olli Jokinen gave Florida the cushion it needed. With Dan Boyle in the box for hooking, the Panthers captain took a backhanded tip pass from Brett McLean and sent a slap shot past Smith to make it 3-1.

Horton added an empty-net goal for Florida before Tampa Bay closed the scoring with Darche's sixth.

Notes: Roberto Luongo won 30 games for the Panthers in the 2005-06 season. ... The Panthers are 26-9 in regulation at home against Tampa Bay. ... Horton has scored three winning goals in March. ... C Jeff Halpern (abdominal strain) and D Paul Ranger (left shoulder) didn't play and are day-to-day. ... The Lightning failed to score on the power play for the first time in six games. ... Lightning D Boyle needs one point to reach 250 in the NHL.

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