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HomeSportsHockeyNHL News: Panthers look to even series with 'no-panic' Rangers

NHL News: Panthers look to even series with ‘no-panic’ Rangers

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The Florida Panthers dominated the New York Rangers in most statistical categories in Game 3, except for goaltending and defensive coverage mistakes.

The differences in those areas are why the Panthers are hoping to even up the Eastern Conference Final series in Game 4 Tuesday night in Sunrise, Fla., and why the Rangers are seeking a 3-1 lead.

If the Rangers can win again, they will get a chance to clinch the series on home ice Thursday in Game 5. If the Panthers can earn a split at home, they will assure themselves of hosting Game 6 on Saturday night.

The Panthers opened the series with an impressive 3-0 victory in New York. However, the Rangers have rebounded with a pair of overtime wins — despite Florida controlling large portions of both games — thanks to Igor Shesterkin, who has a 2.33 goals-against average in the postseason and has stopped 83 of 90 shots in the series.

“We have a no-panic mentality that’s kind of relied on in those moments when we’re under siege,” New York forward Barclay Goodrow said. “It might get ugly sometimes, but guys had to block some shots and (Igor Shesterkin) made huge saves. In the end, a win’s a win.”

The Rangers earned Sunday’s 5-4 win when Alex Wennberg beat Sergei Bobrovsky by scoring on a deflection of a Ryan Lindgren shot 5:35 into overtime. Wennberg was left alone at the net by Florida defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson after the Panthers won a defensive zone faceoff but saw defenseman Dmitry Kulikov lose the puck.

Wennberg’s game-winner came after the Rangers blew a two-goal lead by allowing tallies to Aleksander Barkov and Gustav Forsling in a span of 1:54 in the third period. The Panthers had plenty of chances to get the lead in the third by outshooting the Rangers 13-4. Forsling hit the post with about eight minutes left and Matthew Tkachuk was stopped by Shesterkin when he was alone in front with 39 seconds left.

The Panthers outshot the Rangers by a 37-23 margin and scored twice on six power plays in Game 3 but also gave up five goals for the third time in the postseason.

“When you put up whatever we put up tonight and you don’t come away with a win, you should be a little growly,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said.

Sam Reinhart scored two power play goals for Florida in the first period, but the Panthers gave up two goals apiece to Alexis Lafreniere and Goodrow before coming back. Lafreniere scored on a breakaway and on an end-to-end rush while Goodrow scored on a deflection and a short-handed goal during Florida’s four-minute power play in the second period.

“You can say we dominated, but then you look at the mistakes that led to their goals,” Reinhart said. “So, there’s areas for improvement, for sure.”

Perhaps even more of a source of frustration for the Panthers is that the Rangers are leading in the series without Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider getting a point so far. Zibanejad took three shots on goal while Panarin and Kreider took one shot apiece on Sunday.

“Finding ways to win is huge in the playoffs,” said New York’s Vincent Trocheck, who collected two assists after setting up Goodrow’s game-winner in overtime on Friday. “It doesn’t really matter whether it’s overtime, regulation, up two late, down two late. We just try to work for wins.”

–Field Level Media

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