Despite a slow start, and blowing a two goal lead, the New York Rangers rallied back in the third period to defeat the Florida Panthers 6-3 at Madison Square Garden. Since returning from the All-Star break, the Rangers have been very sloppy in their own end, and it continued right from the start in this game. As a result, the Florida Panthers were able to jump out to a very early lead after Aleksander Barkov chipped one home just 4:09 into the first period.
Ryan McDonagh wound up coughing up the puck on an attempted outlet pass, and Brad Boyes scooped up the loose puck to create an opportunity. On the rebound, McDonagh was still a ways behind the play, and Boyes found Barkov cutting to the net for the easy tap in. Henrik Lundqvist really didn't have much of a chance on the goal, and he was pretty much left out to dry following the turnover.
Things kept getting worse by the minute, and just three minutes after the Panthers took the 1-0 lead, Dan Girardi took down Jonathan Huberdeau. Exactly a minute into the penalty kill, Rick Nash stripped Aaron Ekblad at the blue line, and broke in all alone on Roberto Luongo. Nash finished it off with a quick cut to his forehand, and left Luongo in the corner wondering what happened to his jock strap.
Fast forward to the second period, and the Rangers had a huge opportunity to cash in on their first lead of the night as Alex Petrovic took down Mats Zuccarello. Zuccarello had the last laugh, though, as he sent a beautiful centering feed over to Kevin Hayes, and blew it by Luongo for the 2-1 lead. Following the Hayes goal, the Rangers started coming to life, and went to work on the Panthers in the offensive zone.
About six and a half later, Marc Staal ripped a shot off of Sean Bergenheim and the puck deflected over the shoulder of Luongo to extend the lead to 3-1. Jesper Fast deserves a ton of credit for this goal, as he not only kept himself onsides, but also whipped a quick pass through four players, and hit Marc Staal cutting down from the point. Just as it appeared the Rangers were finally trending in the right direction, everything came crashing down right in front of our eyes.
The Panthers wound up rattling off two straight goals in a span of three minutes, and knotted up the game at 3-3 heading into the second intermission. Blowing a two goal lead late in the second period was certainly deflating, but the Rangers responded accordingly in the third period, and rallied to secure two points.
First it was Dan Boyle, who would up getting a little help from Willie Mitchell, and slipped a shot through Luongo after his centering pass was deflected in front. Then, a little over seven minutes later, Mats Zuccarello chipped home his eighth goal on the season, and extended the Rangers lead to 5-3. Finally, Nash closed out the scoring at the 18:07 mark after he fought off Brandon Pirri, and let the puck slide into the empty for his 31st goal of the season. That goal now brings Nash even with Alexander Ovechkin for the league-lead in goals.