NYR Game 3 column Wennberg OT goal celebration

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The New York Rangers bent and broke in the third period, and it didn't matter.

They gave up a two-goal lead before seven minutes elapsed, the Panthers scoring twice in a 1:54 span. They were under siege the entire time, especially late. They looked out of gas when the buzzer sounded. But they still had a chance. They still had overtime.

All this team ever needs is one chance to find a way to win a hockey game, even when it looks like they have no business winning it.

"Stayed with it," center Vincent Trocheck said. "Found a way to win."

Alex Wennberg scored at 5:35 of overtime, his first goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Rangers somehow, someway outlasted the Florida Panthers for a 5-4 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amerant Bank Arena on Sunday.

With back-to-back overtime wins, the Rangers have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

"The third period didn't end the way we want it, but you have to go in and reset," Wennberg said. "We had a little talk there, but I feel like this team, we have that belief. We're maybe not the most vocal, but we all look at each other. We know what to do and you obviously see when we get out there, we get the job done."

New York is 4-0 in overtime in the playoffs despite being outshot 28-20, but this win Sunday was easily the most improbable of them all based on every measurable that can be a predictor for success or failure.

The Panthers had 108 shot attempts in the game. The Rangers had 43.

The Panthers had 41 shot attempts in the third period. The Rangers had 11.

The Panthers had 37 shots on goal in the game. The Rangers had 23.

The Panthers scored on two of their 13 shots on goal in the third period. The Rangers didn't connect on any of their four.

The Panthers went 2-for-6 on the power play. The Rangers went 0-for-2.

But Igor Shesterkin made 33 saves; 11 in the third period and five in overtime. The Rangers were credited with 37 blocked shots. One of Barclay Goodrow's two goals was short-handed, getting something back for a PK that allowed Sam Reinhart to get two on the power play.

And when the Rangers got into the dressing room after the third period, it at least gave them a chance to gather their wits, take a deep breath and remember that they too are in the conference final and they too belong here.

Coach Peter Laviolette essentially reminded them of that.

"We knew we could play better," defenseman Ryan Lindgren said. "Guys were saying that. 'Lavi' comes in and just calms us down and tells us that we can play our game, play a lot better. It's not easy. They're a good team over there and they controlled a lot of that in the third, but you come out and know that we can play our game."

Laviolette said his message to the team before overtime was just get back to work, get back on the attack, forecheck, be aggressive.

"We were taking on a lot of heat in the third period," Laviolette said. "I don't think necessarily that one period leads to the next period. Our second period didn't lead to the third. Their first period didn't lead to the second. I think the periods are different. Everything plays out differently. It's just a chance to reset and we had been in the situation in overtime quite a few times already in the postseason and our guys have responded and handled it really well. The message was go back to work, let's get on the attack and be comfortable in what we're doing."

The Panthers still had a 2-on-1 seconds into overtime with Shesterkin having to make a save on Aleksander Barkov. Soon enough, the Rangers got back to work. Filip Chytil put a shot on goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. He had to freeze the puck at 5:25, setting up a face-off in the left circle.

Wennberg won it against Evan Rodrigues. Jack Roslovic dug the puck out against the wall. He moved it up to Lindgren at the left point. Wennberg went to the net. He was all alone there, a defensive breakdown by the Panthers that the Rangers needed.

Lindgren sailed a shot. Wennberg got a piece of it, deflecting over Bobrovsky's blocker.

"Maybe there was some sort of a breakdown, he was by himself, but at the end of the day that puck is sifted in and you still have to get a piece of it, a redirect," Laviolette said. "He was in a good spot for a screen, a redirect, a little bit of everything, and he was able to get it done."

Just like that, it didn't matter that the Rangers were outshot 37-23 or that the Panthers had a 108-44 advantage in total shot attempts. It didn't matter that the Rangers were under siege throughout the third period or that they gave away a two-goal lead.

"I've said it a few times already, going into overtime in the playoffs like this it's anybody's game," Trocheck said. "A lot of times it's a rinky dink shot off a pad or something like that. When we came in here after the third, it was the same mindset that we've had every time we've gone into overtime. It's work for the next one."

They got it. That's all that matters.