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HomeSportsHockeyNHL News: Panthers looking for even more in Game 2 vs. Rangers

NHL News: Panthers looking for even more in Game 2 vs. Rangers

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Shortly after the New York Rangers were stifled by the Florida Panthers’ defense in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final, coach Peter Laviolette gave a blunt assessment of his team’s 3-0 loss.

“I don’t think that that was the best version of ourselves,” Laviolette said. “I think there’s more for us to give and more for us to do out there.”

While Laviolette is hoping to see the Rangers’ improvement, the Panthers will be out to maintain their strong defense Friday night when Game 2 takes place at New York.

The Rangers are trailing in a series for the first time in this postseason, which began with seven straight wins. After scoring 35 goals while ousting the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes in 10 games, the Rangers mustered 24 shots on goal in Game 1 on Wednesday.

It marked the fifth straight game they were held under 30 shots on goal and ninth time this postseason.

New York dropped its second straight home game of the postseason, but the difference between a 4-1 loss to Carolina in Game 5 of the second round was it never held a lead. The Rangers rarely came close to scoring on Sergei Bobrovsky and had 12 shots on goal through the first two periods before attempting to mount a charge in the third.

Artemi Panarin, Alexis Lafreniere and Vincent Trocheck had three shots on goal apiece but also were a combined minus-8 as the Rangers had 19 shots blocked and missed the net 20 times while also going 0-for-2 on the power play.

“I think we have a tendency to sometimes try to do a little too much when it’s not there instead of just playing even, increasingly more and more simple, understanding that we’re not doing a good job of getting through the neutral zone,” New York forward Chris Kreider said. “I mean, the desire is there, the want is there, but you have to work smart, not just hard.”

The Panthers won their fourth straight road game of the playoffs by being opportunistic and getting a strong performance from Bobrovsky, especially in the third.

Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk scored his fifth goal of the postseason and cashed in following a New York mistake in its offensive zone. Tkachuk scored after Panarin misplayed the puck before attempting to take a shot. Tkachuk’s shot sailed through traffic in front of the net and trickled off Igor Shesterkin’s glove.

“All in all, happy with how it went,” Tkachuk said. “A lot of things that we can get better at, but you never complain after a win, especially in the playoffs, so on to Game 2.”

Carter Verhaeghe also scored, finding the net in the third period when his pass that was intended for Tkachuk was inadvertently tipped in by Lafreniere. Sam Bennett scored inside the final two minutes.

Bobrovsky did the rest and faced under 25 shots on goal for the seventh time in the postseason. He allowed two goals or fewer for the sixth straight game and ninth time in the postseason.

“They’re a good team, they’re a really good team and you’re going to have to come up (with big saves) especially in the end with that tight score,” Bobrovsky said. “So they’re going to bring their best and the guys did a great job.”

–Field Level Media

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