Well, that was just one of those game you want to tuck away in your back pocket, and never look back on it. The New York Rangers fell to the Florida Panthers tonight by a score of 3-2, and were unable to punch their ticket to the post season. Luckily enough, the Rangers finally caught a break with the Winnipeg Jets also losing and still have a one point cushion. The Rangers lucky number remains at just two with two more games remaining on the schedule.
Despite outshooting the Panther 10-2 in the first period, the Rangers weren't able to solve Jacob Markstrom, who was standing on his head all night long. After a scoreless first period, the Panthers were able to break through just five minutes into the second period. Tomas Fleischmann was able to get a piece of Filip Kuba's point shot, and redirected it home for the 1-0 lead. From watching that second period, you can tell it was beginning to get a little frustrating for the Rangers. Mats Zuccarello gets a great chance earlier in the game, and than rings one off of the cross bar later on in the second period.
The chances were there in bunches for the Rangers tonight, but they just ran into a hot goaltender, and weren't able to make the most of their chances. Finally in the third period, Taylor Pyatt was able to break the shutout for Markstrom, as he converted on a loose puck that was sliding through the crease. John Moore actually made a great drive to the net prior to the goal, which caused a ton of chaos in front of Markstrom. With the puck still floating around in front of the crease, Pyatt was able to stab at the puck and knock it over the goal line to tie the game.
Unfortunately for the Rangers though, just five minutes after the tying goal, Brad Richards was whistled down for a very marginal tripping call which sent the Panthers to the power play. Even though the Panthers are currently in the basement of the NHL, they still possess the 9th best power play in the league and they showed that on the go ahead goal. Marcel Goc received a nice centering feed from Fleischmann which he redirected on the ice, and beat Henrik Lundqvist through the five hole for the 2-1 lead. It was an absolutely deflating moment for the Rangers following a great effort to tie up the game.
After a failed attempt on a late power play, Drew Shore wound up scoring on the empty net with just over a minute left in the game. However, the Rangers continued to chip away in the dying minute, and Derick Brassard was able to pull the Rangers back within a goal. Brad Richards made a great desperation attempt from behind the net, and Brassard cleaned up the rebound in front of Markstrom to make it 3-2. Off of the ensuing faceoff, the Rangers came right back down the ice with the goalie pulled for a shot at the tying goal. Mats Zuccarello had a golden opportunity to take a clean shot from the left faceoff dot, but elected to pass it cross ice for an attempted onetimer that eventually failed.
It was an all around frustrating loss for the Rangers as they were on a nice little roll heading into this game. Although they weren't able to clinch a playoff spot tonight, they still can do so on Thursday night as they take on the Carolina Hurricanes. The magic number remains at two. Get it done boys.