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LBC GameDay Preview: Florida Panthers at New York Rangers

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The Cats and their shiny new coaching staff couldn't produce a victory in Ottawa, can they snap their eight-game losing streak tonight in the Big Apple?

Mike Stobe

The Florida Panthers visit the New York Rangers in Manhattan tonight at 7 p.m. at the newly renovated Madison Square Garden for the first of three meetings this season. The Panthers will welcome the Rangers to Sunrise on November 27th and the two clubs will conclude the season series, as well as 2013, at the BB&T Center on December 31st. The Cats have now lost eight in a row, but have managed to accrue four loser points along the way. Tonight's tilt closes out a three-game road trip. They fell 4-1 in the opener to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, and were beaten 3-2 by the Senators yesterday afternoon. This is the first of a two-game homestand for the Broadway Blueshirts. They will play host to the New Jersey Devils after the Panthers leave town. The Rangers enter the game on a two-game winning streak after beating Pittsburgh 5-1 at home on Wednesday, and then skating to 4-2 road decision over the Columbus Blue Jackets a night later.

These two teams met last on April 23rd, towards the conclusion of last year's lockout-shortened schedule. The 13-26-6 Panthers were hosting the 24-17-4 Rangers in Sunrise. New York was looking to extend a three-game winning streak, but were bested 3-2 by Jacob Markstrom and the Cats. The Alien stopped 38-of-40 shots, while Tomas Fleischmann, Marcel Goc and Drew Shore scored the Florida goals, temporarily keeping the Rangers from clinching a playoff spot. *Full Recap*Boxscore

Florida's last outing would see them fall behind by two early, but bounce back to make a game out of it, in yesterday's 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Goaltender Tim Thomas returned to action for the Panthers and looked good once he got his bearings straight. Nick Bjugstad scored his second of the season to pull the Panthers out of the early hole, and Marcel Goc would tally his fifth goal in the third period to complete the scoring. Tomas Kopecky finally picked up his first point of the campaign with an assist on Bjugstad's marker. Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad and Clarke MacArthur were the Ottawa scorers. Turris also added an assist on MacArthur's 5-on-3 game-winner. *Full Recap* Boxscore

It was the first game behind the bench for new head coach Peter Horachek and his assistants, Brian Skrudland and John Madden.

The Rangers beat the Blue Jackets 4-2 in Columbus on Thursday night. Carl Hagelin scored twice, and New York also got goals from Ryan Callahan and Ryan McDonagh. Cam Talbot made 32 saves to post the win in goal. *Full Recap* Boxscore

Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

Broadcast: FS-F

Radio: WQAM

Season Series: First of three meetings

Standings:

Florida Panthers: 3-10-4, .294, 10 points, on pace for 48 points. Seventh in the Atlantic Division, 14th in the Eastern Conference, tied for 28th in the NHL. Last Five: L-O-O-L-L.

New York Rangers: 8-8-0, .500, 16 points, on pace for 82 points. Tied for third in the Metropolitan Division, tied for 9th in the Eastern Conference, tied for 20th in the NHL. Last Five: W-W-L-W-W.

Panthers Leaders

Goals: Brad Boyes - 5, Marcel Goc - 5, Jesse Winchester - 4

Assists: Tomas Fleischmann - 8, Brian Campbell - 7, Jonathan Huberdeau - 5

Points: Tomas Fleischmann - 11, Jonathan Huberdeau - 8, five players with 7

Faceoffs: Nick Bjugstad - 54.3% (69-for-127), Marcel Goc - 51.6% (156-for-302), Aleksander Barkov - 46.6% (109-for-234)

Shots on Goal: Tomas Fleischmann - 45, Kris Versteeg - 44, Tomas Kopecky - 41

Hits: Erik Gudbranson - 44, Mike Weaver - 41, Shawn Matthias - 32

Blocked Shots: Mike Weaver - 42, Tom Gilbert - 29, Erik Gudbranson - 26

The LBC GameThread springs into action at 6:30 this evening, so join us there for all things Panther. For a New York state of mind, head over to Blueshirt Banter for their take on tonight's matchup.