Even though the New York Rangers were a sloppy tonight, they were able to find a way to win, and put up five goals on Tim Thomas and the Florida Panthers. The Rangers were actually outplayed for a better part of this game, but they were able to capitalize on the chances they were given. While the Rangers started to bend a little bit in the third period, they didn't break, and rebounded with two goals to put the icing on the cake.
There was a lot of back and forth action to start out the opening minutes of the game, and the Rangers finally received their first real opportunity halfway through the period. Taylor Pyatt wound up drawing a hooking penalty on Dylan Olsen, which gave the Rangers their first power play of the game. Last game against the Lightning, the Rangers were slow, standing around, and had a tough time gaining the zone.
However, tonight was like night and day for the Rangers. They made a few quick, crisp passes before Mats Zuccarello set up Derick Brassard for his fifth goal of the year. The puck touched four different players in a matter of seconds, and Zuccarello made a picture perfect pass to allow Brassard a wide open deflection in the high slot. Tim Thomas really didn't have much of a chance, and the puck was in the back of the net before he even knew what happened.
The first period was probably the Rangers best period of the game, as they went on to be completely dominated for the better part of the second period. All throughout the game, the Panthers had a relentless forecheck, and gave the Rangers little room to work with in their own zone. Luckily for the Rangers, they were able to lock down the defensive zone, and also gave the Panthers very little to work with.
Nearing the end of the second period, the Rangers caught a bit of a lucky bounce as Brad Richards wound up putting the Rangers up 2-0. Tim Thomas didn't appear to see the initial shot, as Brian Campbell was standing right in the shooting lane, and limited Thomas's vision.
With the Rangers clinging to a their two goal lead, they came out with a bit of jump in the third period. Just five minutes into the third period, Rick Nash put the Rangers up 3-0 after he converted on a failed clearing attempt from Tom Gilbert. Nash was initially trying to get the puck over to Brad Richards, but Gilbert intercepted the pass, and made a blind drop pass between his legs. Nash picked up the loose puck, and had a wide open shot from the has marks.
If there's one person that you want in front of the net with the puck, it's Rick Nash, and he finished it off with a beautiful shot to the lower corner of the net. Following the goal, the Rangers appeared to be riding their way to an easy 3-0, but the Florida Panthers weren't going to give up all that easy.
Within a matter of minutes, the Panthers scored twice coming from Scottie Upshall, and Nick Bjugstad to bring them within a goal of tying the game. The Rangers didn't panic though, stuck to their game plan, and it wound up paying off in the end. Two minutes after Bjugstad's goal, the Rangers got one right back on the power play coming from Mats Zuccarello.
John Moore actually deserves a ton of credit for this goal, as he banked the puck off of the back boards with an intentional pass, which left Zuccarello wide open in front to collect the rebound. It was a huge goal for the Rangers, as they were able to regain their two goal lead, and wound up leading them to their third win of this five game road trip.
Carl Hagelin eventually iced the game with a late empty net goal, and capped off the Rangers 5-2 win. Next up for the Rangers will be the Boston Bruins this upcoming Friday at 1:00 PM, followed by a Saturday afternoon game against the Vancouver Canucks back at home.