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Panthers Shoot Past Mighty Ducks

With the Anaheim Mighty Ducks missing their top defensive pair of Fredrik Olausson and Ruslan Salei because of injuries, it was only a matter of time before the Florida Panthers capitalized.

Ray Whitney scored twice during a four-goal third period, once on his first career penalty shot, as the Panthers beat the Ducks 5-2 Sunday night in their only meeting of the season.

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  • "Obviously we're going to miss those guys, but still that's no excuse to play the way we did," Anaheim coach Craig Hartsburg said of Olausson and Salei. "It was both physical and mental."

    Radek Dvorak snapped a 1-1 tie with 12:51 remaining and the Panthers also got goals from Rob Niedermayer and rookie Oleg Kvasha to remain four points behind Boston for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth. The Bruins beat Washington 4-1.

    "It didn't matter what was going on around the league. We just needed to win a game," Florida coach Terry Murray said. "We took the puck to the net real well tonight."

    Florida played without captain Scott Mellanby, who was suspended for at least one game by the NHL pending a hearing. Mellanby received a match penalty at the end of Saturday night's 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings for deliberately trying to injure Ray Ferraro with a cross-check to the face moments after the final horn.

    "It's the rules of the game and we have to treat it like an injury," Murray said. "Hopefully, it's only a one-game `injury."'

    Teemu Selanne scored his league-leading 40th goal for Anaheim. Ted Drury also scored for the Mighty Ducks, and Guy Hebert stopped 25 consecutive shots after Kvasha scored his 12th goal of the season with the Panthers' first shot on net.

    But Florida scored its next two goals on identical plays. Dvorak beat Hebert him between the pads from close range with 12:51 remaining after getting the puck behind the net from Johan Garpenlov and skating iout in front. Viktor Kozlov set up Whitney less than three minutes later for a 3-1 lead.

    "We haven't played great over the last five games. We just haven't worked at all," Hartsburg said. "But now we've got four days to start getting our work ethic back. We need to get focused. We've been getting away with not playing hard, and we can't get away with it anymore."

    Anaheim rookie Pascal Trepanier, playing more minutes than usual because of Olausson's sore ribs and Salei's tender shoulder, pulled Whitney down from behind with 6:17 remaining and referee Stephen Walkom awarded Whitney his penalty shot.

    Whitney beat Hebert high to the glove side for his 22nd goal and only the second penalty-shot goal against the Ducks in their six-year history.

    "It was nothing fancy," Whitney said. "I had no idea what I was going to do. I just was trying to read him as I went in. He always seems to take everything down low."

    Niedermayer added his 18th goal 16 seconds later against Hebert, who faced 21 shots in the third period.

    "Guy is part of the team, and like everyone else, he was not sharp tonight," Hartsburg said. "But how many games are we going to give up 40 shots? It certainly was not his fault, but he wasn't as sharp as he has been."

    After being shut out in the first period of their previous five games, the Panthers connected with their first official shot on net. Bill Lindsay unleashed an 80-foot slapshot that whistled wide of the right post, but the puck caromed off the end boards and right to Kvasha in the right circle. His one-timer from 25-feet out beat Hebert to the short side at the 1:32 mark.

    The Ducks, who own the league's best percentage on the power play and already have set a club record for power-play goals, tied it up with their 73rd of the season while Lindsay was serving a tripping penalty.

    Tomas Sandstrom started the play by skating the puck out of the right corner, making a move around defenseman Bret Hedican and cutting in front of the net before he was denied by Sean Burke. But Selanne converted the rebound, giving him the league lead by one over Eric Lindros, John LeClair and Alexei Yashin.

    Selanne, who has 18 goals in his last 19 games, reached the 40-goal mark for the fourth consecutive season and fifth time in his career. The first time was during the 1992-93 campaign, when he and Alexander Mogilny each scored 76 to break Mike Bossy's rookie record.

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