The New York Rangers put on a dominating performance throughout the first 40 minutes of this game, but they almost threw it all away in the final frame. A three-goal third period by the Florida Panthers brought them back within a goal late in the game, but thankfully Igor Shesterkin held down the fort.
Chris Kreider (9) - Mika Zibanejad (7) & Ryan Strome (4) PPG - 7:52
With the Rangers needing a good start following a rough end to their road trip, they were handed an early power play to get the legs moving. Following some great puck movement, Artemiy Panarin found Mika Zibanejad all alone at the top of the crease. Spencer Knight made a solid initial save, but wound up losing the puck as he fell to the ice. Chris Kreider swarmed the front of the net and chipped the puck under the crossbar to give New York the early lead.
Adam Fox (3) - Barclay Goodrow (3) & Mika Zibanejad (8) SHG - 19:54
As the second period came to a close, the Rangers were tasked with killing off a penalty after Kevin Rooney was sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct. Mika Zibanejad started the play by entering the zone 1-on-3 and dished the puck off to Barclay Goodrow on the perimeter. Goodrow caught the entire building off guard with a quick reverse pass back to the middle of the ice, and hit Adam Fox in stride. Fox had plenty of space to work with, moved to his backhand, and flicked a shot over the shoulder of Spencer Knight.
K’Andre Miller (1) - Chris Kreider (3) - 12:48
Just past the halfway mark of the second period, K’Andre Miller decided it was time to unleash god mod on the Florida Panthers. Miller skated the puck all the way out of the neutral zone, and kept moving his feet through the neutral zone. MacKenzie Weegar turned in an attempt to make a defensive play but it was too little, too late, and Miller burned him to the outside. As he was falling, K’Andre Miller somehow got a shot off and roofed the puck under the crossbar to make it a 3-0 game.
Ryan Strome (2) - Artemiy Panarin (11) & Jacob Trouba (3) - 13:18
Exactly 30 seconds later, the Rangers stormed right back down the ice and put a stranglehold on this game. Jacob Trouba’s step up in at his own blue line caused a turnover and he quickly transitioned the puck up ice. Artemiy Panarin was the recipient of Trouba’s outlet pass, and the Breadman finished it off with his own great pass back across the ice. Ryan Strome was able to skate onto the puck with ease, outwaited the sprawling Spencer Knight and tucked the puck into the empty net to give New York a commanding 4-0 lead.
Eetu Luostarinen (4) - Patric Hornqvist (4) & Mason Marchment (6) - 0:20
The Rangers entered the third period with a four-goal lead, but it would be the Panthers coming out flying early in the third period. A great feed by Aaron Ekblad setup a chance in front of the net, and then chaos erupted in front of Igor Shesterkin. The Rangers were unable to clear the loose puck, and after several swings at the puck, Eetu Luostarinen slammed home his fourth of the season.
Sam Reinhart (3) - Owen Tippett (4) & Radko Gudas (4) - 18:34
Things got a little scary within the final two minutes of regulation as Sam Reinhart brought the Panthers back within a pair of goals. New York left Reinhart unattended in the high slot, and Owen Tippett found him with a perfectly placed pass. Kevin Rooney was just a second too late as he stepped up, and Reinhart absolutely whistled a shot over the shoulder of Igor Shesterkin.
Patric Hornqvist (2) - Aleksander Barkov (6) - 19:20
With under a minute remaining in the game, an offensive zone faceoff resulted in a collective gasp as Florida pulled back within a goal. The play itself came off of a broken play, and Patric Horqvist was able to swing a shot on goal as he spun around on his forehand. Igor Shesterkin was surprised by the quick shot, and the puck slipped between his legs to make it a 4-3 game.
The Rangers thankfully escaped the final 40 seconds without surrendering another goal and came away with a 4-3 victory on home ice. It was certainly scary for a moment as the Panthers swarmed in the offensive zone, and essentially had their way with the Rangers. On a positive note, the Rangers offense finally came alive in this game as they were all over Florida early in the game. Following tonight’s close call, the Rangers will have an extended break and won’t be back in action until Saturday night when they faceoff against the Columbus Blue Jackets.