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Panthers-Rangers Preview

GAME: Florida Panthers (16-21-6) at New York Rangers (22-12-7).

TIME: Saturday, 1 p.m. EST.

Overtime has not been kind to the New York Rangers lately.

New York tries to snap a three-game losing skid when it hosts the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers have earned points in each of their last three games, but have lost all of them in the extra period.

They allowed a goal to Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby at 3:31 of overtime in a 4-3 loss last Saturday, were shut out 1-0 by Tampa Bay on a goal by Vaclav Prospal at 3:47 of the extra session on Tuesday and were beaten 4-3 by Philadelphia on a Simon Gagne goal just 7 seconds into overtime Thursday.

Gagne's goal was the second fastest in the history of NHL overtime. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Toronto's Mats Sundin scored 6 seconds into overtime against St. Louis on Dec. 30, 1995.

Rangers goaltender Kevin Weekes, who made 19 saves to drop his fourth straight game, took the blame for allowing the winning goal.

"It was my mistake," Weekes said. "I was anticipating him trying to go around me and instead he put it between my pads."

Weekes, 6-5-2 with a 2.27 goals-against average against Florida in his career, will likely back up rookie Henrik Lundqvist in this game. Lundqvist is 2-0-0 with a 1.46 GAA against the Panthers this season.

Jaromir Jagr, the league's leading scorer with 63 points, has 26 goals and 54 points in 43 games against the Panthers. He had a career high-tying seven points against Florida while with Washington in a 12-2 win on Jan. 11, 2003.

The Panthers are 1-1-1 on their five-game road trip and have lost consecutive games following a season-high three-game winning streak.

In a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders on Wednesday, Florida blew three one-goal leads and lost backup goalie Jamie McLennan to a shoulder injury after a first-period collision. McLennan, who allowed one goal on 12 shots, was replaced by Roberto Luongo at the start of the second.

Luongo made 23 saves before giving up Mark Parrish's game-winning goal at 2:15 of overtime.

"It's one of my weak points, coming into a game when I didn't plan on it," Luongo said. "But I don't think I did too badly."

Joe Nieuwendyk scored his fifth goal in five games for Florida. He has 18 goals and 34 points in 33 games against the Rangers.

The Rangers have won three straight home games against the Panthers, but have lost five of their last six overall at Madison Square Garden.

STANDINGS: Panthers - 38 points, 4th place, 18 PB, Southeast Division. Rangers - 51 points, 2nd place, 9 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Panthers - Olli Jokinen, 18 goals, 26 assists and 44 points; Chris Gratton, 59 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 25 goals, 38 assists and 63 points; Michal Rozsival and Darius Kasparaitis, 50 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Panthers - Power play: 15.6 percent (34 for 218), 23rd in NHL. Penalty killing: 83 percent (225 for 271), 12th. Rangers - Power play: 16.5 percent (39 for 236), 19th. Penalty killing: 85.4 percent (223 for 261), 2nd (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Panthers - Luongo (16-17-6, 2 SO, 3.02 GAA); McLennan (0-4-0, 3.10). Rangers - Lundqvist (14-5-5, 1, 2.14); Weekes (8-7-2, 3.05).

SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 9; Rangers, 4-3 (SO). At Sunrise, Fla., Petr Prucha scored the lone goal in the shootout and Lundqvist made 38 saves for New York.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Panthers - 4-15-4 on the road; Rangers - 11-5-4 at home.

Associated Press

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