After an extended five day break, the New York Rangers returned to action tonight looking to get back into the win column. Despite blowing three separate leads in this game, the Rangers were able to hang on and defeat the Florida Panthers 5-4 in the shootout. The Rangers improved to 5-1 in the shootout, and picked up two crucial points on the road as well. Here is tonight’s goal breakdown.
Mika Zibanejad (9) - Assists: Jimmy Vesey (6) & Kevin Hayes (13)
With the Rangers having fresh legs coming into this game, they were able to jump on the Panthers pretty early in the first period. Mika Zibanejad picked up his ninth goal of the season off of a double deflection in front, and he slammed home the loose puck at the top of the crease. Zibanejad’s goal set the tone for the period, in which the Rangers played their most complete 20 minutes in quite a while.
Vladislav Namestnikov (3) - Assists: Kevin Hayes (14) & Fredrik Claesson (1)
Later on in the second period, the Rangers doubled up their lead with a shorthanded goal coming from Vladislav Namestnikov. Kevin Hayes deserves all of the credit for this goal after his hard work in the corner, followed by a ridiculous pass through two players and out to Namestnikov. With plenty of time to pick his spot, Namestnikov made a few quick moves before sliding the puck past Roberto Luongo to make it a 2-0 game.
Keith Yandle (5) - Assists: Mike Hoffman (13) & Jonathan Huberdeau (25)
Despite an extremely strong period by the Rangers, the Panthers slowly chipped away at the two goal lead less than a minute into the second period. Keith Yandle was able to put the Panthers back within a goal after a bomb of a slap shot from the point that slipped between Henrik Lundqvist’s pads.
Jonathan Huberdeau (8) - Assists: Keith Yandle (22)
Nearly three minutes later, the Panthers swung the momentum back in their favor with a bit of a fortunate goal coming from Jonathan Huberdeau. The goal came off of a 2-on-1 rush into the Rangers zone, and Huberdeau finished it off with a weak wrister after looking off Evgenii Dadonov on the far side. Henrik Lundqvist was clearly fooled by the change in speed on the shot, and that evened the game at two.
Matt Beleskey (1) - Assists: Brady Skjei (7) & Tony DeAngelo (7)
About two minutes after the Panthers tied the game, the Rangers regained their lead with a nifty deflection by Matt Beleskey. The goal would be Beleksey’s first goal as a Ranger, and it was surely a decent way to get your first. He was able to deflect the puck through his own legs off of a Brady Skjei point shot, and beat Luongo over the right arm.
Aaron Ekblad (7) - Assists: Jonathan Huberdeau (26) & Evgenii Dadonov (15)
The Panthers once again clawed back in this game to make it a 3-3 game heading into the third period. A beautiful cross-ice feed by Jonathan Huberdeau created the chance and Aaron Ekblad finished the play off with plenty of net to shoot. Henrik Lundqvist was unable to get back into the position, and we were tied for the second time.
Fredrik Claesson (2) - Unassisted
Fredrik Claesson gave the Rangers some life again just 1:32 into the final frame with a wicked wrist shot from just inside the left faceoff circle. Luongo had clear view of the shot the entire time as there was no screen in front, and Claesson beat him cleanly over the shoulder.
Aleksander Barkov (11) - Assists: Keith Yandle (23) & Mike Hoffman (14)
Blowing leads in the third period is starting to become a trend for this Rangers team, and it happened yet again with under 10 minutes remaining. A costly penalty by Mika Zibanejad put the Panthers up a man, and Aleksander Barkov took full advantage with a nasty wrister from the high slot. The shot wound up barely changing direction after deflecting off of Neal Pionk, and beat Lundqvist just under the crossbar.
Shootout - 5-4 Rangers
Despite the Rangers needing the shootout the decided their last couple of games, they have fared surprisingly well. Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Shattenkirk both scored during the first two rounds to give the Rangers an early 2-0 advantage. Jonathan Huberdeau was able to bring the Panthers back within a goal, but Kevin Hayes iced the game in the third round with a disgusting move to his forehand and gave the Rangers a 5-4 win.
Following tonight’s victory, the Rangers will spend tomorrow in Florida before returning to action on Monday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.