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game recap

Panthers defeat Rangers in shootout, close gap in wild card

Win record eighth straight at home

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers moved within two points of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with their record eighth straight home win, 4-3 in a shootout against the New York Rangers at BB&T Center on Saturday.

The Panthers (34-25-7), are two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card, and three points behind the New Jersey Devils for the first wild card, with three games in hand on both.


[WATCH: All Rangers vs. Panthers highlights]


The Panthers' streak, which broke the record set in 2015-16, began with a 3-2 victory against the Washington Capitals on Feb. 22 that started a stretch of 11 out of 12 games at BB&T Center. Florida is 8-0-1 with three games remaining.

"We wanted to make sure we establish that culture and identity of being a tough place to play in," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "We've certainly done that as of late."

Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and an assist, Frank Vatrano scored in his Panthers debut and Jamie McGinn had a goal. Roberto Luongo made 34 saves.

Video: NYR@FLA: Huberdeau cashes in on loose puck for PPG

The Panthers won 2-1 in the shootout, clinching the victory when Vincent Trocheck scored in the second half of the third round. Aleksander Barkov also scored for Florida. Mats Zuccarello scored for New York.

Zuccarello, Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes scored for the Rangers (30-32-7), who have lost three in a row. New York is 10 points behind Columbus and 11 points behind New Jersey. Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves.

"We kept battling," Lundqvist said. "We kept coming back in this game and gave ourselves the chance to almost win it. If I can mix in a save in the shootout, maybe we get a win."

Florida led 2-1 before Zibanejad tied the game with a backhand 17 seconds into the third period. It was Zibanejad's 20th goal of the season.

McGinn made it 3-2 at 1:02 when he scored on a rebound. Hayes tied it 3-3 with his 20th goal at 7:25.

"I wasn't happy with my third period, I thought I should have had both goals," Luongo said. "It's nice that the boys stepped up and we were able to get a couple of big shootout goals and get the two points."

Huberdeau gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal with 15 seconds remaining in the first period.

Vatrano made it 2-0 at 8:13 of the second period when he one-timed Trocheck's backhand pass between the legs from behind the net. Zuccarello made it 2-1 at 13:11.

Vatrano, acquired in a trade with the Boston Bruins on Feb. 22, ended a 13-game goal drought. He had been out with a high-ankle sprain but was activated off injured reserve on Friday.

"It's awesome," Vatrano said. "It's even better that it helped out getting a win. For me, it's kind of taking it shift by shift and getting used to the systems. I haven't played in about a month and it's probably the most minutes (19:05) I've played in two years. For me, it's trying to keep my legs underneath me every shift, making sure I was giving my all and trying to keep them short."

Video: NYR@FLA: McGinn capitalizes on rebound in front


Goal of the game

Trocheck's goal in the shootout.

Video: NYR@FLA: Trocheck beats Lundqvist for shootout win


Save of the game

Luongo's glove save against Zuccarello at 3:39 of overtime.

Video: NYR@FLA: Luongo denies Zuccarello on the rush in OT


Highlight of the game

Vatrano's goal at 8:13 of the second period.

Video: NYR@FLA: Vatrano taps home Trocheck's feed for goal


They said it

"I think stats is just a number. The biggest number at the end of the year is how many wins you have and how many losses you have. As a team right now, we've been struggling a bit. We have some new faces and I thought tonight as a team had a pretty good effort." -- Rangers forward Kevin Hayes on scoring 20 goals


"Anytime we can kind of establish a little bit of a home advantage it goes a long way, especially in the playoffs. As long as the fans keep coming out and getting loud for us and we keep winning games at home, it's going to be a huge advantage for us down the stretch." -- Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck


Need to know

Rangers forward Ryan Spooner had two assists and has 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in seven games since being acquired in a trade with the Boston Bruins on Feb. 25. … Lundqvist became the 15th goaltender to play 800 NHL games and is the first goaltender born outside of North America to do so. … Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle had an assist, giving him eight during a five-game point streak. ... Panthers forward Evgenii Dadonov, who had scored two points in five straight games, was held without a point.


What's next

Rangers: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, FS-CR, NHL.TV)

Panthers: Host the Ottawa Senators on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-F, RDS2, TSN5, NHL.TV)


Video: Trocheck lifts Panthers to franchise-record win

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