The New York Rangers picked up their third straight win tonight with a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers, and have surpassed the .500 mark for the first time this season. This game was a little closer than the Rangers would have liked it to be, but at the end of the day two points are two points. With tonight's win, the Rangers find themselves just four points out of first place in the Metropolitan Division.
In the opening minutes of the game, the Rangers were a step behind a Panthers team that was coming off of a tough loss just 24 hours ago. Luckily Henrik Lundqvist was locked in once again, and was able to weather the storm for the Rangers. It took the Rangers a few minutes to find their legs, but they soon turned the tables and started to go to work in the offensive zone. J.T. Miller eventually picked up his first goal of the year, as he capped off a very pretty passing play between Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh.
The goal started and ending with Kreider as he made a strong defensive play in the neutral zone, and finished it off with a beautiful tap pass over to the J.T. Miller. As pretty as the goal was, it only lasted until the final minute of the first period when the Panthers tied up the game on the power play. Aleksander Barkov was the recipient of the goal and finally chipped the puck over Henrik Lundqvist following two ridiculous pad saves in close.
Things started to look pretty bleak for the Rangers later on in the second period as Brian Campell gave the Panthers their first lead of the game. It was a very strange play where Campbell tossed the puck on net from the point, glanced off of the post, and just barely crossed the goal line off of Lundqvist's back.
Shortly after the Rangers handed over the lead to the Panthers, Derek Dorsett knotted the game back up at two off of a gritty play at the side of the net. Dorsett initially forced the puck on net from the goal line, and was able to get two more jabs at the puck before it slid through the legs of Tim Thomas.
The third period wound up being a little bit more friendly to the Rangers as they were able to score twice in the opening five minutes to restore a two goal lead. Brad Richards sniped home the first goal just 46 seconds into the third period, which was sweet redemption after he botched a tap in earlier in the second period. Richards had a very strong game tonight, but wound up getting a few unlucky chances earlier in the game.
Then five minutes later it was Mats Zuccarello who potted one on a one-timer from the right faceoff dot on the power play. Speaking of the power play, the Rangers have been exceptionally fun to watch this year with the man advance. They are moving the puck with ease, and are generating chance after chance in the two minute span. Great teams are lethal on the power play, and this should be a major positive if the Rangers keep it up heading forward.
Just when things started to look up for the Rangers in the closing minutes, Brian Campbell picked up his second goal of the night on a rebound in front of Lundqvist. The goal was a direct result of the Rangers being pinned in their own zone, which wound up in the back of their own net. With the Rangers on their heels in the final two minutes, Chris Kreider took a very undisciplined penalty on Scotty Upshall.
Upshall was going at it Derek Stepan earlier on the shift, and Kreider returned the favor with a dangerous shove along the boards with send Upshall flying into the boards back first. Kreider may have a meeting with the NHL after the hit, but I'm assuming it wouldn't be anything more than if a fine, if anything.
The Rangers eventually closed out the game with a few key saves from Lundqvist and some solid clearing attempts by the penalty killers. With tonight's win, the Rangers have won seven of their last nine, and are really looking solid heading into Tuesday night's game against the New Jersey Devils.