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Luck in the City: Mike Weaver's Odd Goal Lifts Florida Panthers to 4-3 Win over Rangers

Pantherguardian PANTHERS 4, RANGERS 3

NEW YORK – It has been a few games since the Panthers had a two goal lead on an opponent, but it hasn't been so long ago that they forgot how to squander such a cushion.

On Tuesday night, the Rangers became the latest team to erase a two-goal deficit against a Florida team that simply cannot put teams away.

This time, however, it was the Panthers who were the ones making the late push as they held on for a 4-3 victory at Madison Square Garden after Mike Weaver's long shot toward the net deflected off a New York defender and floated past the goalie for the winning goal.

Weaver's fortunate goal came on Florida's first shot of the third period with 8:19 remaining in regulation. It also came on the Panthers only – as in one – shot of the third period. And had the puck not bounced past the goalie, it wouldn't have counted as a shot at all since it was way wide of the net.

Weaver “I was relieved to see it. We were up 3-1 and they scored back-to-back,'' Weaver said. “It was great to see that goal. Thank God.''

The Panthers led 3-1 going into the third but watched the Rangers score twice off six shot within the first 3:05 to tie things up. It looked like it was going to be another meltdown by the Panthers, although Weaver's fluke goal took some weight off and Tomas Vokoun was strong the rest of the night. Vokoun stopped 32 shots as he helped the Panthers snap a four-game losing streak.

Since Dec. 31, the Panthers had taken at least a two-goal lead in eight games – failing to hold that lead in seven of them.

“Our goalie won us this game,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “There's been a few nights this year that we left the building with no points after outplaying an opponent. We were on the other end of that. Those kind of things sometimes even out. We got outplayed for big stretches of the game and probably didn't deserve to be in the spot we were. We'll take it. Our goalie was our best player and it was enough.''

Florida can finish strong heading into the All-Star break as it has gone 4-1-3 since Jan. 11. A win or point in Boston on Wednesday night should keep general manager Dale Tallon from making any sort of a seller's move during the break in the schedule.

The Panthers haven't made the playoffs in a decade and still have acres of ground to make up to get close to the eighth spot. DeBoer doesn't even want to talk about such things.

“We're just putting our heads down and trying to win as many games as we can,'' he said.

Rusty The night started off well for the Panthers as Rostislav Olesz gave Florida a 1-0 lead by whipping the puck past goalie Henrik Lundqvist at 7:25 of the first on Florida's third shot of the night. The Panthers had just four shots in the entire opening period.

“We wanted to jump on them but they jumped on us,'' Olesz said. “It was good for us to get the lead, to settle things down. We finished the first period strong. This was a good win for us but a strange one. Hey, we've lost games where we were the better team. That's how it works sometimes. We battled through. That was the biggest thing.''

New York bounced back and tied it in the second on Derek Stepan's goal, with Florida quickly answering as defenseman Keaton Ellerby picked up his first NHL goal less than a minute later. The locals turned on Lundqvist when Mike Santorelli made it 3-1 on Florida's next shot – his 13th goal of the year coming 1:08 after Ellerby's.

Florida held the 3-1 lead going into the third, although the Rangers would make up lost ground quickly.

A long shot from Michael Sauer was deflected by Brandon Prust just 1:14 into the third, with Brian Boyle tying it by knocking a loose puck past Tomas Vokoun on a power play at 3:05 of the period.

The Panthers did just about nothing on the offensive side of the ice throughout the entire third period, but Weaver's shot found the back of Artem Anisimov and bounced over Lundqvist's head and to the back of the net.

“Hey,'' Weaver said, “we'll take 'em any way we can.''


Dmitry Kulikov was cleared to play by the Panthers team trainer after Tuesday's morning skate and was back in the lineup against the Rangers. Kulikov missed the past two games after injuring his upper rib cage. Kulikov says the pain of breathing was gone and felt confident the padding he was wearing would protect him during hits.

Kulikov said after Monday's practice that he probably would not play.

-- Chris Higgins was back at Madison Square Garden for the first time since the Rangers traded him to Calgary at last year's trade deadline. Higgins missed Florida's past eight games with a hamstring injury and says he hopes to help the Panthers pick up some wins and get back into the playoff hunt. Florida came into the day eight points behind Atlanta for the final spot with four games in hand on the Thrashers.

-- With Higgins and Kulikov back in, DeBoer had some decisions to make with the lineup. Darcy Hordichuk was back in after being scratched the past two games with DeBoer benching the slumping Steve Bernier.

Bernier had two goals with an assist in his first game back from orbital bone surgery in December, but he only has one goal in the 24 games since. His assist Sunday was his first point in 16 games as he has seen his playing time diminish.

The Panthers acquired Bernier, Michael Grabner and a first round pick from Vancouver in exchange for Keith Ballard at the June draft. Bernier and Ballard have struggled, although Grabner – waived by Florida after training camp and claimed by the Islanders – has 14 goals and 19 points in 43 games. That would rank him eighth on the Panthers in scoring.

When, Where: 7 p.m.; TD Garden, Boston
TV/Radio: FSNF; WFTL 640
The series: Tied 30-30-6
The game: This is both team's final game before going into the All-Star break. The Panthers plan to hold their next practice Monday afternoon in Toronto before embarking on another three-game road trip. .-.-. The Bruins have won all three games against the Panthers this season. .-.-. Hortonboston After getting off to a torrid start, former Panthers winger Nathan Horton has definitely cooled off. Horton has one goal this month and has gone nine straight games without scoring one.


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nice to win a game in the third after letting a lead slide. Rusty had a good game as did Ellerby and Higgins.

I think Tallon will deal even if we're on the outskirts of a playoff hope. He doesn't want veteran contracts to expire if he can get anything for them, even late round picks. He is building for the future, not this or next year.

LUcky win tonight! Who knew the Panthers had any luck?

So far, the only thing that is constant is that Vokoun saves the day! Trading him will mean the ultimate demise for the rest of the season and next season....

Now trading booth and weiss, who cares? It is obvious that they have little effect on this team as a Santorelli or Dadonov. Weiss and Booth need to wake up already. Their recent play has shown that they are not the leaders of this team and will never be. they talk about how they want things to change, change the culture yadadada -(are they yormuck in disguise?). Leaders and top line players show up during long homestands and in the third period. Weiss and Booth are just streaky scorers, which means....Weiss and Booth should not be surprised to find themselves on the trade block. They are suppose to be the leaders of this team, and are clearly not - as shown by the collapses and one shot on goal in the third period tonight.

I'm not saying that I have given up on the Panthers making the playoffs...but the truth is the loss of booth or weiss means little as they are replaceable with another streaky forward.

Weiss and Booth are not the problems on this team.

It is not their fault that on every team but the panthers they are 2nd or 3rd line players.

It is the lack of talent that has killed this team for 10 years as well as the country club atmosphere.

If it wasn't for the goal tending we have had under Cohen/Yormark we would be battling for the first pick of the draft every year instead of getting the 6-10 pick.

Yes Tallon needs to get rid of the vast majority of fowards, this team needs to get bigger, smarter and have the attitude that they hate to lose.

The picture of Lundqvist sitting at his locker upset that they lost is something we have not seen on the panthers in over 10 years.

Show the passion that you hate to lose, losing has been accepted in this organization for too long and until that stops you will continue to see us struggle to make the playoffs

Same Old Panthers, do you know anything about hockey, you don't trade 2 of your top 4 scores. Period.

sthsince day one....I agree with most except for one thing...

Vokun has spent many a day sitting there just like Lundquist. He cares deeply, has been upset with many games, sometimes calling out players, sometimes the coach, and sometimes himself. I wish we had 18 players with his passion.

Mostly i wish the coach had ANY kind of passion. You blow this many historic leads, you have one pathetic sog in the 3rd like yesterday...wow is the coaching obviously suspect.

Do Booth and Weiss have twenty goals? NO! There is not one decent scorer, any forward on this team is replaceable!Face the facts, Booth and Weiss are just streaky scorers that vanish for a month at a time. YOu might as well play Dadonov and Santorelil on the top line, I bet you will get the same results.

Also, Even the woeful Islanders, have Traveres (#30 on NHL top goal scoerers - and he was injured) with 18 goals.....The forwards are not doing their job on this team. It starts at the top with Weiss and Booth making over 3 to 4 million. They are not producing, trade them before their value drops more...

Booth who alternated between the first and second, played every game, has only 14 goals! People need stop accepting the medicority of this offense.

Same old...we all agree at best we have a few 25 goal scorers. It could be worse, we could still have Horton heres a boo (12 goals)....from boston.com today..

Horton (one goal in his last 19 games) has been especially invisible. There were times during Horton’s slump when he put pucks on goal and played with energy. In the last two games, though, Horton has reverted to his listless skating. When he’s had scoring chances, he has shot the puck with zero confidence.Because he doesn’t kill penalties, Horton has been of little use all around. If the Bruins had spare forwards, the ex-Panther might be due for a healthy scratch.

Grabner has more goals than anyone on the panthers. Great trade Tallon. We let grabner go and now we bench bernier

You make some good points SAME OLD PANTHERS. your totally right about Booth and Weiss.. both OVER RATED ! they arent leaders either. However, We NEED to trade Vokoun. We are not making the playoffs anyways. We have Clemennsen and should package booth, weiss and vokoun and GET SOME F**KING TALENT ON THIS TEAM.


If the Panthers trade Vokoun, this team will go in a downward spiral. Here is a thought, this team has building around goalies and defenseman now for 10 years! How many great defensemen and goalies have found their way on the panther team. What the Panthers have continually failed at is building the forwards.

Face it, the scouting on offense has sucked, Luce needs to go for being apart of those horrid decisions. They really need to start over on the forwards. They have some kids that could make it like Frolik, Repik, Dadonov, Santorelli, matthias...But what is left of the forwards must go...They need to find a franchise player to build the offense around - a Nash, Staal, Crosby, Toews or someone like it.

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