(1M) Rangers at (1A) Panthers

Eastern Conference Final, Game 3

3 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC

Best-of-7 series tied 1-1

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers will look to rebound, and the New York Rangers will try to build momentum when the teams meet in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amerant Bank Arena on Sunday.

The best-of-7 series is tied after the Panthers won 3-0 in Game 1 on at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday and the Rangers responded with a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 2 there Friday. Having split the first two games on the road, Florida feels confident heading back to Amerant Bank Arena for the next two games. 

The Panthers are 4-2 at home in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs and 3-0 overall in the postseason in games following losses.

“We knew it was going to be a tough series,” Panthers forward Nick Cousins said. “They, obviously, feed off their crowd. They play well at home and so do we. So, speaking for everybody in there, we’re kind of excited to get back in front of our fans and get in front of that crowd. I like our team at home.”

The Rangers are riding a high after Barclay Goodrow scored at 14:01 of overtime Friday to tie the series. New York also is comfortable on the road after going 4-1 away from Madison Square Garden in the first two rounds.

“It’s pretty obvious that you get an energy boost to come down here after a win like that and we even the series up,” Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad said. “We get a chance to play not very long after and we’ll try to keep the momentum.”

Teams that lead 2-1 in a best-of-7 playoff series have a series record of 386-173 (.691).

Here are 3 keys for Game 3:

1. Sustain forecheck

The Panthers used their forecheck to pressure the Rangers and control possession for much of the first two periods of Game 1, when they outshot them 18-12. Game 2 was more back and forth with each team using its forecheck to generate scoring chances and sustained offensive-zone pressure during different times in the game.

Establishing and sustaining the forecheck will likely be an important factor in Game 3 as well.

“I think that we made some better decisions with the puck, which helped lead to the forecheck in Game 2,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “So, I think that’s important that we’re playing a game that’s smart against them because they’re a team that can turn it back on you really quick, and they do. They play fast and they play long and if you make a mistake, it’s coming back the other way.”

2. Power-play shift

After their power play was a significant factor in the first round against the Washington Capitals (6-for-16, 37.5 percent) and the first two games of the second round against the Carolina Hurricanes (4-for-9, 44.4 percent), the Rangers are 1-for-16 (6.25 percent) with the man-advantage in their past six games. 

New York went 0-for-6 in the first two games against Florida, including 0-for-4 with six shots on goal in Game 2. The Rangers were able to prevail Friday despite the Panthers going 1-for-2 on the power play, but know they need to improve in that area.

“They are checking a lot,” Rangers defenseman Erik Gustafsson said. “They’re coming with all four guys, so it’s hard. We’ve got to make fast, quick plays. Obviously, it’s not going to be pretty, but putting the puck to the net is not a bad option even if it’s just a wrist shot from the blue line or from the corner, whatever. We have one of the best guys (forward Chris Kreider) in [front of the net].”

The Rangers (88.4 percent) and Panthers (88.1 percent) have been excellent on the penalty kill throughout the playoffs. Florida has killed 24 of 25 power plays (96 percent) over its past nine games after going 13-for-17 (76.5 percent) in its first four postseason games.

“We’ve been really good,” Panthers forward Kevin Stenlund said. “We’ve been staying in lanes. There haven’t been [many] penalties from our side, which helps.” 

3. Improved offensive execution

Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin (51 saves on 53 shots, one own goal) and Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (52 saves on 54 shots) were difficult to beat in the first two games, and each team defended well, so there haven’t a lot of quality scoring chances against them. The Rangers had an 13-11 advantage in high-danger shots on goal in the first two games, according to NHL EDGE puck and player tracking.

Panthers coach Paul Maurice believes both teams could create more offensively, though, with better execution.

“I think you’re going to get flurries of it,” Maurice said. “Both teams are pretty good defensive teams. Their gaps are good. Their sticks are good. And now, even if you were just an offensive team, it’s the conference finals, so everybody’s blocking shots, everybody’s doing all the hard things. So, I think you’re going to see the game will break loose for five or six minutes. … Even going through last night for both teams, there’s passes that are being missed or maybe at times even almost too safe a play. And I think that will ebb and flow a little bit in game.”

Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Filip Chytil

Artemi Panarin -- Vincent Trocheck -- Alexis Lafreniere

Jack Roslovic -- Alex Wennberg -- Kaapo Kakko

Will Cuylle -- Barclay Goodrow -- Matt Rempe

Ryan Lindgren -- Adam Fox

K'Andre Miller -- Jacob Trouba

Erik Gustafsson -- Braden Schneider

Igor Shesterkin

Jonathan Quick

Scratched: Zac Jones, Chad Ruhwedel, Jonny Brodzinski, Adam Edstrom, Blake Wheeler, Alex Belzile, Brett Berard, Anton Blidh, Ben Harpur, Dylan Garand, Jake Leschyshyn, Connor Mackey, Victor Mancini, Brennan Othmann, Tyler Pitlick, Matthew Robertson, Brandon Scanlin, Adam Sykora

Injured: Jimmy Vesey (upper body)

Panthers projected lineup

Vladimir Tarasenko -- Aleksander Barkov -- Sam Reinhart

Carter Verhaeghe -- Anton Lundell -- Matthew Tkachuk

Eetu Luostarinen -- Sam Bennett -- Evan Rodrigues

Ryan Lomberg -- Kevin Stenlund -- Nick Cousins

Gustav Forsling -- Aaron Ekblad

Niko Mikkola -- Brandon Montour

Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- Dmitry Kulikov

Sergei Bobrovsky

Anthony Stolarz

Scratched: Steven Lorentz, Kyle Okposo, Tobias Bjornfot, Uvis Balinskis, Josh Mahura, Jonah Gadjovich, Spencer Knight, Rasmus Asplund, Mike Benning, Magnus Hellberg, Matt Kiersted, William Lockwood, Mackie Samoskevich, Justin Sourdif

Injured: None

Status report

Neither team will hold a morning skate with the 3 p.m. ET start. … Vesey is out week to week after the forward was injured on a hit by Ryan Lomberg in the second period of Game 2. … Kakko and Wheeler are among the options to replace Vesey. Kakko was a healthy scratch for the first time in these playoffs in Game 2. Wheeler hasn’t played since sustaining a lower-body injury against the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 15, but the 37-year-old was cleared for contact May 13 and said before the series began that he was ready to play. … New York recalled forwards Belzile, Berard, Blidh, Leschyshyn, Othmann, Pitlick and Sykora; defensemen Harpur, Mackey, Mancini, Robertson and Scanlin; and Garand, a goalie, from Hartford of the American Hockey League on Saturday as extras for its playoff roster.