Recap: Rangers Back On Top After Shootout Win Over Florida 

Recap: Rangers Back On Top After Shootout Win Over Florida 
Mar 23, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) is surrounded by his teammates after scoring a goal in the second period against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

With first place in their reach, the Rangers hosted the Florida Panthers for their final meeting of the regular season. The Rangers have won close to 50 games already this season but none of those included their first two meetings with the Panthers. Looking to avoid the season sweep, the Rangers would be in for a high intensity, physical night with a strong Florida team. Only change to the line-up aside from Igor getting the start would be Will Cuylle getting the night off with Jonny Brodzinski taking his place.

1st Period:

Some good pace to start this one as both teams were skating hard, playing physical and moving the puck up and down both ends of the ice. About four minutes in, the Rangers took the game’s first penalty as Erik Gustafsson was sent off for slashing Sam Reinhart. Rangers were able to kill that off no problem but a couple of minutes later, Florida found the back of the net. Matthew Tkachuk was able to deflect a Josh Mahura shot from the point past Igor Shesterkin to make it a 1-0 game.

Just one minute out from the midway point of the opening period, the Panarin line had a strong shift, immediately going the other way on an odd-man rush for a quality scoring chance. However, they would end up getting caught in their own end for a while as Florida was applying relentless pressure. Not only was Florida playing strong offensively, but they were really reading the Rangers well defensively which was really taking away the potential for New York to generate much of anything.

With just over six minutes to go in the first, Vincent Trocheck was taken down by Oliver Ekman-Larsson at the Panthers blueline to give the Rangers their first power play of the night. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t do much for the Rangers as Florida continued to read them like a book which kept them from getting their power play set up let alone establishing any offense. The physicality and feistiness really picked up in the final five minutes as hits were 11-10 in favor of the Rangers by the end of the first period.

By no means were things going to come easy in this game and after trailing 1-0 in the first period, the Rangers were quite aware of that. Shots were 11-8 in favor of the Panthers who also had the edge in face-offs, winning 62% of the thirteen draws across the first twenty. The Blueshirts were going to need to find a way to adapt their game to better exploit Florida’s fast, hard hitting style of play.

2nd Period:

Terrible start to the second as a costly pinch from Erik Gustafsson set the Panthers up for the odd-man rush perfectly. Eetu Luostarinen was able to finish off a perfect feed from Reinhart to give Florida the 2-0 lead early in the second.

About five minutes in, Nick Cousins nearly made it 3-0 as he rung a quick shot off the post on Shesterkin’s glove side. Not long after that, Kyle Okposo had Adam Fox pinned along the boards which sent him off for holding to give the Rangers power play unit their second chance of the night. The Rangers were slightly more composed this time around but after thirty seconds, the Panthers cleared the zone and Shesterkin ended up icing the puck bringing play back to their own end.

Upon regaining possession in the offensive zone, Trocheck got the puck over to Adam Fox in the middle of the slot which he was able to walk in to snap one home past Sergei Bobrovski, cutting the Florida lead in half now 2-1.

The fourth line followed up the power play with an extremely energetic shift that included a couple of big hits from Matt Rempe which got the Garden crowd going. Not long after that, the Rangers top line continued to make a difference as Trocheck set up Artemiy Panarin for a heck of a one timer to tie things up, 2-2.

At this point, the Rangers were firing on all cylinders and the Garden was an electric factory. In the midst of a strong shift from the Wennberg line, Kaapo Kakko took a slash from Carter Verhaeghe which chopped his stick in half to send the power play unit right back out there. Without question, this would be their most dominant power play as they controlled play for practically the entirety of the two minute man advantage but the score would remain knotted up at two goals apiece.

The potential for the tide to turn would be there as Barclay Goodrow was sent to the penalty box for ripping the helmet of Matthew Tkachuck off in the middle of play. Florida had a great chance to regain their lead on the power play but the Rangers were solid in their own end and Shesterkin came up with some key saves to help his team fight off the disadvantage. Rangers capped off a strong period with shots on goal tied 23-23 just as the score was 2-2. An entirely different type of game in the second period as the Rangers were able to bounce back from a 2-0 deficit.

3rd Period:

It was a much slower start to the final period of regulation as the Rangers iced the puck four times through the first three minutes of play. Matt Rempe would have the first shot on goal of the period which would have absolutely blown the roof off the World’s Most Famous had that puck managed to sneak through Bobrovsky. Despite the Rangers picking up the offense a bit, the amount of whistles were continuing to weigh down the overall pace of play this period.

The parade of whistles continued as the Panthers still didn’t have a shot on goal halfway through the third period. They eventually registered their first shot of the period around the nine minute mark but again, all the stoppages of play were just killing the momentum. Trocheck ended up taking a big hit from Luostarinen in the neutral zone which led to the Rangers most active shift of the period. Fox and Panarin continued to showcase their elite talents as they led a lengthy shift in the Panthers zone, generating a couple of really good chances.

With four minutes to go in the period, the Rangers struggled to break the puck out of their own zone and of course Carter Verhaeghe, who as mentioned earlier that period by the broadcast has struggled to score again since hitting the 30 goal mark, found the back of the net on an incredible wrist shot that beat Shesterkin upstairs, 3-2 bad guys.

Thankfully, the Rangers were able to answer just 42 seconds later. Who else? Artemiy Panarin. His second of the night would bounce off some traffic in front but nevertheless, found its way to the back of the net for his 43rd of the season. What an absolute treat it is to watch this player on a nightly basis. It’s going to be a tough conversation for the Hart Trophy but man, Panarin is making such a strong case for himself.

The teams played a conservative couple of minutes to close out regulation as this incredibly exciting game would require extra time to reach a decision. Shots after three were 33-26 in favor of the Rangers.


The Rangers had as great a chance as any to put an end to this one as Zibanejad and Kreider came down on a 2-on-1. Zibanejad fed Kreider so perfectly but it was Bobrovsky coming up with the save of the game to keep his team in it. Artemiy Panarin had another great chance on a point blank shot off the rush but was again, turned away by the Panthers netminder.

The Panthers then had their best chance to end it after Erik Gustafsson took a massive hit along the boards that essentially left the Rangers shorthanded for the remainder of that shift. It looked as though the Panthers were going to have nothing but net to put a loose puck away but Trocheck managed to tuck the puck under the body of Shesterkin.


Zibanejad got things started with an absolute beauty, pulling off the classic “Forsberg” one-handed backhand tuck. Sam Reinhart answered right back, beating Shesterkin with a clean wrist shot.

Artemiy Panarin then beat his buddy Bobrovsky on an almost overly patient move as he waited him out to send the puck to the back of the net, regaining the advantage. Anton Lundell would lose control of the puck on his move which set the Rangers up for the win.

Vincent Trocheck pulled off an underwhelming move that was turned away with ease but Shesterkin was able to shut down our old buddy in Vladimir Tarasenko to win the game and pick up the extra point.

What a win as the Rangers came from behind twice to force the Panthers to overtime, picking up the extra point in the shootout. The Rangers are now back in first place in the entire league as they leapfrog the Boston Bruins with 98 total points on the year. On top of that, the Rangers become that much closer to becoming the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot.

It’s been an insanely busy stretch for this team the last couple weeks that has included some really tough match-ups. It’s hard not to be elated with their performance as they’ve continued to collect wins, playing some great hockey along the way. They’ll finally have an extra day off in between games as they’re back at it at the Garden Tuesday Night as they’ll host the Philadelphia Flyers.