Final

Series (Game 1 of 1)

Florida leads 1-0

Game 1: Friday, December 19th
Stars0Final
Panthers1

Stars 0

(13-16-0, 30 pts)

Panthers 1

(11-15-1, 30 pts)

7:30 PM ET, December 19, 2003

BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida

1 2 3 T
DAL 0 0 00
FLA 0 1 01

R. Luongo (Panthers - G): Saves: 36, Save Pct.: 1.000

B. Ritchie (Panthers - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

M. Nilson (Panthers - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Nilson scores only goal of game

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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