Recap: The Kids are alright as mistake-prone Panthers fall 4-3 to Rangers

Cats drop third straight, trail Penguins by three points

Aleksander Barkov scored twice, but it wasn’t enough as the hockey gods favored the New York Rangers in the third period and the Broadway Blueshirts pulled out a 4-3 win over the fading Cats, who have dropped three straight.

The Panthers played an impressive first period, getting goals from Barkov and Ryan Lomberg and limiting the red-hot Rangers to just three shots on goal.

Barkov opened the scoring at 9:15 when he dove to knock in the rebound of a Gustav Forsling bomb that came after Matthew Tkachuk fed back to the defenseman at the left point. Anthony Duclair took a whack at the puck before Barkov put it home to earn the primary assist.

After Lomberg took a shot that struck Nick Cousins in the slot, Artemi Panarin turned it over to an incoming Marc Staal. Staal dropped the puck back to Lomberg in the left circle and he slapped it by Jaroslav Halak at the 14:46 mark.

The second period was all Rangers as they outshot the Panthers 22-9 and scored a pair of goals to even the score,

Kaapo Kakko made a nice play at the blue line to keep the Cats from exiting their zone, swatting the puck to Filip Chytil, who ate Josh Mahura alive before dishing off to Alexis Lafreniere. Lafreniere went right back to Chytil in front and he was denied by Sergei Bobrovsky. Unfortunately, Bobrovsky couldn’t handle the rebound and Kakko jammed in it at  8:50.

Lafreniere would get a goal of his own with a 1:45 left in the frame, After taking a beautiful crossing pass from Jacob Trouba, Lafreniere pulled the puck to his backhand to get by Ryan Lomberg and beat Bobrovsky short-side. Tyler Motte collected the secondary helper on the highlight reel display from the first overall pick in 2020.

The Rangers got  some puck luck on the go-ahead goal that came 1:22 into the third. Patrick Kane lugged the vulcanized rubber into the Florida zone and his pass attempt to Vincent Trocheck was blocked by Brandon Montour. Inexplicably, Montour gave the puck right back to Kane, who sent it in front for Panarin, where it was deflected in by Carter Verhaeghe. Not one, but two self-inflicted wounds, giving Kane his 450th career goal and the visitors the lead.

Florida would shoot themselves in the collective foot again 4:56 later. Kakko bounced the puck off the side boards and Aaron Ekblad largely whiffed on his attempt to play it, springing Chytil, who broke in on Bobrovksy and easily finished low to the blocker side.

Barkov would get another gritty goal to close the gap 42 seconds later. The captain won an offensive zone draw and went to the net, where he punched in a wraparound pass from behind the net from Verhaeghe.

That’s as close as the Cats would get as the veteran Halak, who finished with 31 saves, would shut the door the rest of the way. Halak came up big with stops on Montour and Reinhart as time was running out.

Florida has only themselves to blame as they made grevious puck management errors on three of New York’s four goals and Bobrovsky wasn’t able to bail them out. After a stellar opening period, they let the Rangers take over the game and reel off four straight goals. The loss, coupled with the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals, leaves the Panthers three points out of a playoff spot with just nine games to go in the season.

Bulls & Bears

  • Aleksander Barkov extended his point streak to ten games with his game-opening goal. Barkov’s second maker was his 20th of the season. That’s eight seasons in a row with at least 20 goals for Florida’s franchise-leading scorer.
  • The Rangers “Kid Line” of Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere each had a goal and an assist and went plus-three during the game. Chytil matched Patrick Kane and Anthony Duclair with a game-high five shots on goal.
  • Speaking of Kane, he now has 1,233 points (450G/783A), passing Phil Housley for second by a United States-born player in NHL history. Kane is up to 20 goals this season, becoming the third U.S.-born player to reach the mark at least 15 times, joining Mike Modano (16) and Keith Tkachuk (15).
  • Sergei Bobrovsky saw a lot of rubber, finishing with 38 saves on 42 shots. Bobrovsky lost consecutive starts for the first time since we flipped the calendar to 2023.
  • Matthew Tkachuk had his goal streak end at six games and his point streak end at seven games. Tkachuk registered four shots on goal and a hit in 20:44 TOI.
  • Carter Verhaeghe has amassed four goals and 11 points on his now eight game point streak. His assist on Barkov’s third period goal was his 30th of the campaign, a first for the 27-year-old forward.
  • The Rangers swept the season series from the Panthers. Read more about it at Blueshirt Banter./