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In The Zone

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Panthers netminder Tomas Vokoun has been stellar between the pipes recently, registering two shutouts. ( AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
By Dave Joseph for

The Panthers pulled into Detroit late Friday afternoon accompanied by the hottest goaltender in the league.
Yes, Tomas Vokoun is in a zone.
Vokoun, who helped the Panthers kick off this four-game road trip Thursday night with a 1-0 victory over the Blues, has been spectacular in his last three starts. In fact, since being pulled Dec. 5 against the Senators after allowing two goals on his first five shots, Vokoun has carried the Panthers.
Vokoun’s numbers the past three games: He’s allowed only one goal in regulation, has stopped 91 of 92 shots, and has recorded two of his three shutouts.
“Tomas has been outstanding,” said GM and coach Jacques Martin as the team prepared for Saturday’s game against the Red Wings. “He gives us a chance to win every night. He’s a fiery competitor who does not like to lose. He seemed to get better as (Thursday’s) game progressed, and our guys seem to feed off his confidence.”
While the Panthers struggle offensively – they’ve scored only five goals over the past three games – Vokoun continues to prove why he’s one of the league’s elite goaltenders. But he deflects credit to his teammates.
“I’m seeing the puck really well right now and our defensemen are playing very well in front of me,” Vokoun said Friday. “After I make a save our defensemen are doing a good job at getting the puck out of the zone. It’s a process that takes time, but we continue to make strides in the right direction.”
The Panthers will now try to win a record fifth consecutive road game Saturday in Detroit. No easy task. But Martin likes the way the Panthers have started this trip which continues in Chicago and Montreal before returning for a huge match against rival Carolina.
“It was important to start the road trip off with a win like that,” Martin said. “Our team is playing very well away from the puck over the last three games and we’re learning what it takes to compete for 60 minutes.
“This is a crucial road trip for us and we need to pick up as many points as possible.”
Vokoun agreed.
“If we are going to start to climb in the standings we need to start winning on the road consistently,” he said. “St. Louis was playing well at home and we matched their energy and played a solid game for 60 minutes. That is the same type of game we need to play on Saturday in Detroit.”
David Booth, who injured his right leg in Tuesday’s game against Calgary, flew Friday to meet the team in Detroit. It’s still questionable whether he’s play against the Red Wings.

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