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Scott Clemmensen Looks Sharp in Shootout Win

Clemm PHOENIX – One would think that as the Panthers backup goalie, Scott Clemmensen wouldn't face the pressures of being in a shootout situation as much as Tomas Vokoun does.

Yet because he's the backup, Clemmensen probably sees more one-on-one shots and takes on more pucks on a daily basis than Vokoun does. Being there for target practice long after practice officially ends is one of the roles the backup gets to play.

On Saturday night, Clemmensen's daily routine paid off as not only did he hold the host Coyotes to one goal off 41 shots through 65 minutes of play, but he was strong in the shootout and led Florida to a 2-1 win.

Clemmensen did give up two goals in the shootout; the Panthers got goals from Mike Santorelli, Stephen Weiss and Michael Frolik to win it. Clemmensen is now 7-5 all-time in shootouts.

“Shootouts are very difficult, they are challenging and there is a lot of pressure out there,'' said Clemmensen, who picked up his first win since Nov. 5 on Saturday. “I think goalies are more used to those pressures than other players are. It's my belief that shootouts have more difficult in practice than they are in games because of the pressure that's on the shooter in the game.''

Clemmensen has been a solid backup for the Panthers since signing a three-year deal in the summer of 2009. Now in his second full season with Florida, Clemmensen has apparently won the trust of coach Pete DeBoer as he has been more willing to give Vokoun a break and put Clemmensen in tough situations.

Clemmensen's previous start came against the high-octane Flyers in the second game of a back-to-back set.

“He was great. That's exactly what we need him to come in and do,'' DeBoer said after Saturday's win. “He needs to pitch games like that to help us get things turned around.''

Coming into the season, it was assumed that Clemmensen would eventually become Florida's starter this season after Vokoun was traded away. Vokoun is in the final year of his contract and becomes an unrestricted free agent in July.

That was the thinking early on, anyway. Since the season has started, Jacob Markstrom -- Florida's 20-year-old future goalie -- has struggled in his first North American professional season. Coming into Sunday, Markstrom is 8-11 and has made just 88 percent of his saves. That save percentage ranks him 47th out of 48 goalies in the league.

Panthers management isn't concerned about Markstrom, however, as they figured he would need plenty of time to adjust to a new style of play not to mention a complete change of lifestyle. Markstrom has spent the past three seasons playing in the Swedish league.

In a perfect world, the Panthers would like to continue to watch Markstrom develop in the minor leagues, even having him play there next season. There are rumblings that the Panthers are interested in signing Vokoun to a new contract, although for lesser money and fewer seasons than he received in the deal he signed with Nashville before being traded to the Panthers.

When the Colorado Avalanche come to Sunrise on Tuesday, Vokoun will likely be sitting on the bench watching Clemmensen. Even though he's the backup, his performance on Saturday earned him another start. The goalie in the opposite net is a familiar face. Craig Anderson, Vokoun's former backup in Florida, has established himself as a starter in Colorado.

“You're always trying to get the win, but you also can't do too much,'' Clemmensen said. “The shots early in [Saturday's] game really got me into the game, got me into a zone. Believe it or not, that helped. When you don't play for a long period of time, you want to get those jitters out early. You want to be tested and make some saves. Then you can just exhale and play.''

-- Winger Radek Dvorak was wearing a sling after Saturday's game and he is expected to be checked out by a team doctor on Monday. Dvorak went crashing into the back boards during the second period while driving in on Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Dvorak left the game and didn't return. Florida is expected to call up a forward from its AHL affiliate in Rochester to replace Dvorak on Tuesday.

The Panthers have been without Cory Stillman for the past three games because of back spasms. It's possible he could practice Monday and play on Tuesday. 

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