The Florida Panthers ground out a 3-2 shootout win over the New York Rangers Sunday night to wrap up a four-game road trip with three wins.
The victory was Florida’s first at Madison Square Garden since April 18, 2013.
New York dominated the opening twenty minutes, out-shooting the Cats by a robust 14-5 margin, and came up with the only goal when Chris Kreider ripped a shot by James Reimer at the 13:15 mark.
After Derek Stepan took a pass from defenseman Marc Staal in is own end and breezed into the Panthers zone without meeting any resistance, he dished off to Kreider, who went high stick-side with a wrist shot from the left circle.
Reimer kept his team down by one and the Cats managed to get back on equal ground with the Rangers with a much better effort in the second period.
The Cats tied they game with 5:07 left in the frame with Blueshirt Brady Skjei in the sin bin for concealing the puck.
Florida’s power play converted with 34 seconds left in the man-advantage when Keith Yandle notched his first in a Panthers kit with a slap shot from the left point. Assists on the goal went to Vincent Trocheck and Aleksander Barkov. Colton Sceviour provided a nice screen on Henrik Lundqvist.
The Rangers would regain the lead just 1:45 into the third period. Mika Zibanejad got the goal when a pass from Mats Zuccarello deflected off the back of his skate as he was crashing the net. Rookie Jimmy Vesey picked up the secondary assist on the play.
Aaron Ekblad would forge a 2-2 tie with his fifth of the season 6:09 later. Trocheck did some heavy lifting to get the puck to Jakub Kindl at the blue line. Kindl quickly slung the vulcanized rubber over to Ekblad, and his drive caught J.T. Miller before eluding a crossed-up Lundqvist. The assist gave Kindl, playing just his second game, his first point of the season.
After overtime, where the Rangers posted two shots to the the Cats’ one, failed to produce a winner, the game headed to the shootout.
Round one saw Reimer foil Zuccarello and Trocheck beat Lundqvist to give Florida the advantage.
Reimer came up big again with a stop on old friend Brandon Pirri before Barkov ended it with one of his patented saucy one-handers. Barkov’s backhand stuff-shot just squeaked past the goal line to give the Panthers the precious bonus point.
The big win capped off a strange trip that saw the Panthers get outplayed for large stretches of the four games, but somehow, someway, the Cats are returning to Sunrise with six more points then they had when they left for Montreal. Florida gets two at home, against the Flyers and Blue Jackets, before they head back out on the road for a grueling six-game trek.
Bulls & Bears
- After an awful game against his old team in Toronto, James Reimer bounced back with a strong 33-save performance to even his record at 3-3-1.
- He might not have any assists yet, but a resurgent Aaron Ekblad does have three goals in his last four games.
- Speaking of assists, Vincent Trocheck has notched at least one in four of his last five outings. Trocheck is now second on the team in scoring with 13 points.
- The Rangers suffered a big loss in overtime when Mika Zibanejed broke his left fibula. Zibanejed bagged his fifth goal during the tilt and also won an impressive 17 of 24 face-offs. He is expected to be out for six to eight weeks.
- In addition to scoring in his first game against his former team, Keith Yandle tied for the team lead in shots (4) with Jussi Jokinen and had two blocks in his 22:02 of ice time.
- Henrik Lundqvist, who finished with 28 stops, played in his 700th regular season game. He is only the fifth keeper in NHL history to play 700 games with one team.
- Talk, talk, talk it’s only talk... Blueshirt Banter has the other side of the first of three between the Cats and Rangers.