Rangers get three from Nash in 5-4 overtime win over Panthers

Winger completes hat trick 2:01 into the extra session to squelch Cats rally

The expected goaltender's duel between Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist never materialized as the New York Rangers used a three-goal performance from Rick Nash to outgun the Florida Panthers 5-4 in overtime Saturday night at the BB&T Center.

The goalies did get off to a sharp start with Luongo stuffing Chris Kreider's penalty shot bid and Lundqvist denying Nick Bjugstad twice on a Florida power play during the first half of the opening period.

Nash scored the first of his three goals at the 11:08 mark. Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello collected the assists with some crisp passing after a bad turnover by Brandon Pirri.

Bjugstad would finally solve Lundqvist 6:46 into the second period after taking a goalmouth pass from Pirri. Jussi Jokinen started the play by holding the puck in the Rangers zone.

New York regained the lead at 13:22 when Nash took a pass from Zuccarello in his own end and carried it up ice and beat Luongo short side while being harried by Bjugstad. Marc Staal also picked up an assist on the goal.

The Panthers would draw back even 4:35 seconds later with a power-play marker from Jokinen. Reilly Smith fed Pirri for a big shot that Jokinen deflected into the back of the cage.

Midway through the third period, a superb play by Derek Stepan would lead to the next Rangers tally. Brian Campbellmoved into the offensive zone and tried to thread an ariel pass to a breaking Derek MacKenzie. Stepan knocked the pass down, gathered the puck and fed Zuccarello for a breakaway. Zuccarello made no mistake, turning Luongo inside out before depositing the puck into the yawning net for a spectacular goal.

Viktor Stalberg scored 1:58 later as the visitors doubled their lead. J.T. Miller dug the puck out of the corner and passed off to Oscar Lindberg, who found an unmarked Stalberg in front.

Later, Stalberg would set the stage for an unlikely Florida rally by picking up an interference minor.

The Panthers would pull Luongo on the ensuing power play, which ended with a goal from Aleksander Barkov at 17:32. After playing catch with Barkov, Aaron Ekblad let a shot go from the point that Jonathan Huberdeau swatted down. An opportunistic Barkov was there to punch the loose puck into the net to cut the deficit to one.

With Luongo again on the bench for an extra attacker, Florida struck thirty-nine seconds later with Jaromir Jagr bagging his eighth goal of the season. After Jagr ripped one off the cross bar, Ekblad came up with a big hold at the line and was able to get the puck to Barkov, who loaded the gun for the ageless wonder and he buried the second chance to secure a point for the Cats.

In overtime, a too many on the ice penalty against the Panthers proved costly. Nash fired the winner past Luongo from the top of the right circle at 2:01, with the helpers going to Derick Brassard and Dan Boyle, to bring an exciting night of action in Sunrise to an unfortunate end.

Despite the loss, the Panthers were able to take a point from the top dogs in the Eastern Conference after being down by two late. They'll need to build on that Monday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

Odds & Sods

  • Rick Nash picked up his three goals on a whopping ten shots. It was his first hat trick on the road since 2010.
  • Jaromir Jagr's goal was the 730th of his illustrious NHL career. His next will tie him with Marcel Dionne for fourth all-time.
  • After coming up with just 25 shots against Anaheim, the Panthers fired a robust 43 at Lundqvist.
  • Aleksander Barkov found the net for the second straight game. He has three points in three outings since returning to the lineup.
  • The Panthers haven't beaten the Rangers since a 3-2 win on April 23, 2013.
  • Roberto Luongo finished the game with 26 stops and saw his record drop to 6-7-3.
  • Click here for the war-on-ice advanced stats breakdown.
  • Grab a bagel and head over to Blueshirt Banter for the opposing view of last night's action./

Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)