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Nilson scores only goal of game

12/20/2003

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- Marcus Nilson's second goal of the season
came at a perfect time for the Florida Panthers.

Nilson scored a short-handed goal in the second period Friday
night to lead the Panthers to a 1-0 victory over the Dallas Stars.

"Our line's been playing well, so I've had a lot of chances,"
Nilson said. "It was just a matter of time as far as me scoring.
It feels good, but most of all, we pulled the win off."

Nilson scored for the first time since Oct. 13, taking a pass
from Byron Ritchie on a three-on-two and flipping a soft shot over diving Marty Turco.

"It's nice to see him cash one in, especially short-handed,
because he's a guy that sacrifices the body," Florida coach Rick
Dudley said. "It's nice to see him actually get a goal like
that."

Nilson's goal stood up because of a strong performance in goal
by Roberto Luongo, who made 36 saves and collected his second
shutout of the season.

Luongo, who entered the game having faced the most shots of any
goalie in the NHL, recorded the 18th shutout of his career.

"It was just one of those nights where everything was working
well for me," said Luongo, who recorded his first career 1-0
victory. "The guys did a good job. They had a lot of shots, but it
was a lot of perimeters, and on a couple of rebounds, the guys were
there."

Luongo's best save came in the final seconds of the second period, when Brenden Morrow stood in the crease and tipped Don Sweeney's slap shot from the boards. Luongo reached back and swiped away the rolling puck.

"That was a big, big save, obviously," Dudley said. "That's
why he gets the big bucks."

Dallas also had a good scoring chance a minute earlier when Bill Guerin's shot from a sharp angle went between Luongo's legs and bounced off the post.

Luongo made a nifty glove save on a wrist shot by Stu Barnes in
the 13th minute of the third period.

Florida won for just the second time in 11 games (2-3-5-1).

Dallas had its three-game winning streak snapped and its road
woes extended. The Stars are 3-12-2 in away games, matching their
total for road losses during the 2002-03 season. Dallas is winless
in its last six games away from the American Airlines Center.

"That's the difference between our game on the road and at
home," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "We score at home. That
pretty much sums it up."

Turco finished with 23 saves and allowed fewer than three goals
for the 11th time in 13 games.

The Stars were shut out for the third time in eight games, and
they have scored more than one goal only once in their last nine.

"We've been running into a lot of hot goalies, but at the same
time, we're not scoring goals," Stars center Pierre Turgeon said.
"We've just got to find a way."

The Panthers missed a scoring chance in the first period when
Ritchie's shot from inside the faceoff circle hit the post to the
right of Turco.

"It was a big test tonight against one of the top teams in the
league," Florida center Olli Jokinen said. "Tonight, we were
ready to play. Everyone was on top of their game.

"When you play like that and get a hot goalie who's playing
well, one goal is enough to win the game.

Game notes
The Stars haven't scored more than one goal during their
road winless streak. ... Florida snapped a streak of four
consecutive victories by the road team in the series. ... Despite
the loss, Dallas still has the best winning percentage (.800) in
games played in Florida since the start of the 1998-99 season. The
Stars are 8-2, 4-2 against Florida and 4-0 against Tampa Bay. ...
Dallas D Philippe Boucher missed his ninth consecutive game because
of a fractured left orbital bone. Boucher, who practiced with a
facemask Thursday after being cleared to play, is listed as
day-to-day. ... Florida has gone into overtime in seven of its last
13 games.