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Nedved Powers Rangers Forward

The Florida Panthers were looking for a break. Mike Richter made sure they didn't get one.

The Rangers goalie stopped 34 shots and Petr Nedved had a goal and an assist as New York defeated Florida 2-1 Wednesday night.

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  • With the victory, the Rangers moved a point ahead of Florida and into ninth place in the Eastern Conference. New York trails Boston by five points for the final playoff berth.

    "I thought I did a good job out there," said Richter. "It was a good night for me.

    "We're chasing Boston, so this was an important win."

    The Bruins kept the heat on both the Rangers and the Panthers by defeating Ottawa in impressive fashion.

    Nedved put New York in front 2-0 at 9:13 of the second period after getting the puck from Rich Brennan. Florida's Chris Wells was in front of Nedved, but lost his stick and Nedved was able to skate around him and score over Sean Burke's glove.

    "That's a goal-scorer's goal," said Florida coach Terry Murray. "We had our chances. We had no luck in the game and that's what it comes down to sometimes, getting a break."

    Panther Jaroslav Spacek was in the penalty box for obstruction hooking and the Rangers, who possess the league's best power play on the road, took advantage.

    Meanwhile, the Panthers had 18 shots and three power plays in the second period, but weren't able to put anything past Richter, who was superb.

    "Richter seemed to be able to stop anything we threw at him," said Panther Rob Niedermayer. "And we weren't able to get the rebounds."

    The Panthers finally got on the board with 8:38 to play when Dan Boyle scored his second NHL goal on a nice feed from fellow rookie Mark Parrish, but Richter slammed the door shut.

    "They came at us pretty hard, but after they scored we held up well," said Rangers coach John Muckler.

    Adam Graves' team-leading 35th goal gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead after one period. It was his 12th point in 14 games.

    After digging the puck out along the right boards, Graves sent a blast past Burke, who had started to come out of the crease.

    The Panthers, in the midst of a stretch where they'll play seven of eight at home, had a shot to tie it in the final minute of the first period. But Richter made a great stick save to rob Radek Dvorak in close.

    The Rangers were coming off a disheartening 6-3 loss to lowly Tampa Bay, while the Panthers had beaten Anaheim 5-2 Sunday night.

    While both teams have steep climbs to make the playoffs, New York left South Florida feeling good.

    "It's great the way we bounced back, because Tampa was a bad loss," said Wayne Gretzky, who played for the second straight game after missing 12 games with a disc problem in his neck.

    Florida, which has yet to win or lose more than two straight all year, outshot New York 35-24, but Richter made that stat meaningless.

    "They got off some good shots," said Richter. "Luckliy, not many follow-ups."

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