Denis Malgin picked the perfect time to score his first goal of the season.
The diminutive 20-year-old beat Henrik Lundqvist with 1:09 remaining to give the Florida Panthers a 5-4 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
After struggling to find the back of the net on Monday night in Newark, the Panthers scored three times on six shots in the opening period.
Aleksander Barkov got the game’s first goal at 5:50, deflecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot that first hit Brendan Smith’s skate over Lundqvist shoulder with the Cats on a power play. Keith Yandle drew the second assist on Barkov’s eighth.
Jamie McGinn doubled Florida’s lead 3:45 later with his fourth of the campaign. McGinn started the play off by knocking the puck away from Nick Holden and getting open to receive a pass from Nick Bjugstad before beating Lundqvist upstairs.
Michael Haley netted his first as a Panther to chase Lundqvist with 3:13 left in the frame. Haley took a pass in his own end from Colton Sceviour and lugged the puck all the way up the ice before slipping it through the screened netminder.
The Rangers drew one back when J.T. Miller fired the puck through James Reimer’s pads 4:04 into the middle frame. Mats Zuccarello took the initial shot that was deflected by Mark Pysyk before it came to Miller. Brady Skjei picked up the secondary assist for feeding Zuccarello after a New York faceoff win.
Jonathan Huberdeau responded by jamming his own rebound over replacement goalie Ondrej Pavelec 4:32 after the Miller goal. Assists on the play went to the defense pairing of Michael Matheson and MacKenzie Weegar.
Chris Kreider controlled the puck down low and eventually found Pavel Buchnevich for an easy backdoor put-away to cut the deficit back down to two at the 9:26 mark. David Desharnais was credited with the secondary assist on the goal.
That same trio quickly combined for another goal to pull the Rangers within one after a pretty series of passes. Kreider started the rush off and ended it by finishing a crisp cross from Buchnevich.
Kreider struck again 13:28 into the third to knot the score at four. Desharnais took a pass behind the net from Buchnevic, found Krieder open in front and he tipped it by Reimer.
With overtime looming, Malgin played hero to get the Panthers the win in regulation. Smith blocked a blast from Pysyk, but the puck came right back to the defenseman, who slid it over to Malgin. The Swiss winger made no mistake, denting the twine from the high slot. Huberdeau was also credited with an assist, his third point of the night.
The win gave Florida a sweep of the brief two-game road trip to the New York metro area and their tenth win of the season. This is just the third time this season the Cats have won twice in a row. The Panthers return home to face the San Jose Sharks on Friday before heading to Raleigh for a Saturday night date with Carolina. A three-game homestand follows the game against Hurricanes, giving the Cats, who have won three of their last four, a good chance to finally climb back over the .500 mark.
Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)
Bull & Bears
- Florida’s win snapped New York’s eight-game winning streak at Madison Square Garden. Six of the past seven games between two teams have been decided by one goal.
- Jonathan Huberdeau’s three-point night gave him the club scoring lead with 25 points. Huderdeau’s second period tally ended a six-game goalless drought.
- In addition to Huberdeau, Rangers Chris Kreider (2G/1A), Pavel Buchnevich (1G/2A) and David Desharnais (3A) also finished with three points.
- Henrik Lundqvist departed the game with three saves on six shots. Reliever Ondrej Pavelec stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced.
- James Reimer made 33 saves to get his first win since October 26, when the Panthers rolled the Ducks 8-3.
- Kevin Hayes appeared to tie it with 4:11 to go in the second period, but the goal was waved off for goaltender interference due to incidental contact by Rick Nash.
- Take a bite out of the Big Apple over at Blueshirt Banter. They have the other side of the latest nail-biter between the Panthers and Rangers.