A lousy third period at home against Detroit on Saturday carried over on Monday as the New York Rangers jumped out to a two-goal lead en route to a 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers struck at 11:15 of the first period with Viktor Stalberg picking off Steven Kampfer's ill-advised drop pass for Jaromir Jagr. Stalberg went the other way and worked a nice give-and-go with Dominic Moore before beating Al Montoya with a slick backhand move.
Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan combined to set up Mats Zuccarello's power-play goal at 3:33 of the second. Zuccarello fired a wrist shot off the cross bar and in while falling to the ice. Vincent Trocheck's hooking minor gave the Rangers the man-advantage.
Henrik Lundqvist came up with a nice glove stop on a Jussi Jokinen one-timer and somehow survived a mad scramble in front late in the period without yielding a goal to keep New York up by two after two.
Trocheck atoned for his earlier transgression at 6:51 of the final frame, capping off a pretty three-way passing play involving linemates Reilly Smith and Jokinen. After dishing off to the veteran Finn, the speedy Trocheck deflected the return feed by Lundqvist for his 23rd goal and 50th point of the season.
Rick Nash bagged the eventual game-winner at 11:14, right after a Rangers' power play expired. Teddy Purcell cleared a rebound right out to Kevin Klein and the defenseman promptly set up Nash for the quick one-timer.
The Cats pulled one back with a power-play goal with 36 seconds left in regulation. Purcell deflected Dmitry Kulikov's floater from the point on goal and Jiri Hudler was there to knock the juicy rebound home.
Former Panther Tanner Glass put the game away with an empty-net goal with 8.2 seconds on the clock. Klein picked up his second assist of the night on the clincher.
Inexplicably, Florida came out flat and couldn't match the Rangers' intensity during the first forty minutes of the game. After failing against the Red Wings, the penalty kill wasn't good in this one either, surrendering the Zuccarello goal and essentially Nash's winner as well, with Jonathan Huberdeau just stepping out of the box to put the teams at even-strength. The Cats did better in the third, where they came up with 15 of their 27 shots and both goals, giving them a little bit to build on as they head to Boston for a key divisional match-up against the Bruins on Thursday.
Bulls & Bears
- Steven Kampfer had a goal disallowed as the zebras ruled his stick was above the cross bar. It didn't look that way, but the ruling on video evidence came back as inconclusive from Toronto. What a surprise...
- Rick Nash's game-winning goal was his first since December 30th, ending a 14-game drought.
- Viktor Stalberg also snapped a long scoring drought. His first period marker ended a 17-game cold spell.
- Florida first line had a night to forget, with the trio combing for just two shots on goal and a -5 rating. Jonathan Huberdeau failed to register a shot and his high-sticking penalty led to Nash's winner.
- Al Montoya finished the game with 28 saves and fell to 10-6-3 on the season. Henrik Lundqvist made 25 stops to post his 32nd win.
- Nick Bjugstad saw his five-game scoring streak come to end. Bjugstad only had one shot on goal and
- The fine folks at war-on-ice have the fancy stats stuff for you here.
- NHL.com has a highlight package for you to see with your own eyes.
- Blueshirt Banter has the other side of the Rangers season-series clincher over the Cats.