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Prucha scores only goal in shootout

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- Petr Prucha is a rookie until the shootout.

Prucha scored the only goal in the shootout Wednesday night to
give the New York Rangers a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers.
It was the second time in five nights Prucha scored the game-winner
in a shootout, the Rangers' only winners this season in the
tiebreaker format.

"I don't think about what I do," said Prucha, who gave the
Rangers a 3-2 victory over New Jersey on Saturday. "It was the
same thing as last time. I saw the goalkeeper in the net, so I shot
the puck up. Lucky goal."

Prucha has three goals on 11 games this season.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped all four shots by the
Panthers in the shootout. Florida's Roberto Luongo stopped Martin
Straka, Michael Nylander and Jaromir Jagr before Prucha scored with
a wrist shot over his glove.

"I was a little nervous," Lundvist said of the shootout.
"It's a big challenge facing skilled players. But it's fun when
you win."

Dominic Moore of the Rangers tied the game 3-3 with three
seconds left in the third period. Steve Rucchin and Straka also
scored for the Rangers, who began a five-game road trip, their
longest of the season.

"We kept working hard to the end," Rucchin said. "Obviously,
we were pretty lucky to get a break and there's no question we
definitely stole a couple of points."

Stephen Weiss, Olli Jokinen and Anthony Stewart scored for
Florida, which was playing at home for the first time since Oct.
20. The Panthers had to postpone two home games because of
Hurricane Wilma.

"We had a few more fans than usual and that was great,"
Stewart said, lamenting the Panthers didn't get the victory for
them.

Florida, which had played its previous six games on the road,
has lost six straight (0-3-3).

Lundqvist stopped 38 shots in regulation and overtime, while
Luongo made 37 saves.

The Panthers appeared ready to take a 3-2 victory when Moore's
backhanded pass from behind the net went in off defenseman Jay
Bouwmeester.

"It feels like we're fortunate to come away with two points,"
Moore said. "The thing is if you hang with it, sometimes you get
the bounce. The effort was there."

Jokinen had given Florida a 3-2 lead with a power-play goal at
13:56 of the second period when he beat Lundqvist with a wrist shot
from the side.

The Panthers came close to adding to their lead in the third
period when both Weiss and Jokinen hit the post on power plays.

"There's not much I can say now," Jokinen said. "We lose six
in a row and have a division leader (Carolina) on Friday. It's
going to be a big test for us. If you look at the standings we have
to start catching teams now. Before, teams were catching us, now
they went by us. We have to find a way to win."

Weiss had given the Panthers a 2-1 lead 41 seconds into the
second period when he took advantage of a defensive breakdown to
skate untouched past the blue line and beat Lundqvist with a wrist
shot.

Straka tied the game 50 seconds later when he grabbed a loose
puck at the faceoff circle and beat Luongo with a wrist shot.

Rucchin opened the scoring at 4:56 of the opening period when he
beat Luongo from the just outside the crease after he had stopped
Straka's wrist shot from the point.

Stewart tied the game at 1 when he intercepted Rucchin's
clearing attempt and fired a shot over a sprawling Lundqvist.

"It would be nice to answer questions about a win, but that's
the way it is," Weiss said. "They got one before we did in the
shootout, that's life. We can't hang our heads and feel sorry for
ourselves. It's a little tough to deal with. You play hard for 60
minutes and then give up a goal with three seconds left. It's
demoralizing."

Game notes
This was Florida's first shootout of the season and the
Rangers improved to 2-1 in them. ... Florida D Branislav Mezei left
the game in the first period with a knee injury after being checked
into the boards by Ryan Hollweg. Mezei will be re-evaluated
Thursday morning. ... Florida played without RW Nathan Horton, who
was placed on injured reserve Tuesday because of a knee injury and
will miss at least three games. ... Rucchin's goal came on the
Rangers first power play of the game. They were 0-for-7 with a man
advantage in their 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Monday.