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Rangers, Panthers looking to rebound from losses

by Eric Goodman
RANGERS (12-10-1) at PANTHERS (9-11-0)
TV -- MSG (HD), FS-F (HD)

Last 10 -- New York 5-5-0; Florida 5-5-0

Season series -- This is the first of four regular-season games between these two clubs. The Rangers managed a 3-1-0 record against the Panthers in 2009-10, including sweeping the two games at BankAtlantic Center.

Big Story -- Both New York and Florida are coming off disappointing losses on Wednesday. The Blueshirts suffered a 5-3 defeat at Tampa, while the Cats fell, 3-1, at home vs. the Boston Bruins. While the Rangers have managed two separate three-game winning streaks this season, the Panthers have yet to string together more than two wins in a row thus far. Both clubs are desperately searching for some consistency.

Team Scope:
Rangers --
The good news about Wednesday's loss to the Lightning was that the Rangers managed the last three goals of that game in the third period. Of course, that would mean that the bad news was that the Bolts had already built a 5-0 lead before the Rangers tallied their first goal. And even worse news than that was the fact that New York was outshot in that game 34-20, including a 14-2 differential in the second period.

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was back in net against the Bolts, but he was rattled early and often and even took another disciplinary penalty when he was called for diving in the second period.

"We just looked brain dead through the first part of that game," coach John Tortorella told after the game. "Why? I don’t know. I wish I had the answer."

Panthers -- Florida took a 1-0 lead into the third period against Boston, but it wasn't nearly enough as just one lucky bounce was all the B's needed to creep back into the game. Goalie Thomas Vokoun went to play a period-opening dump in by Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara, but the puck deflected off of Vokoun's stick, wound up in front of the net, and was eventually blasted home by Brad Marchand. Veteran Mark Recchi quickly followed with the go-ahead goal about two minutes later and gave the B's some insurance with a power-play tally in the closing minutes of the game.

"They got a lucky break," alternate captain Stephen Weiss said about Marchand's goal. "Then we had a little bit of a sag, and they get one right away. Then we didn't have a response."

Who's Hot -- Rangers' center Brian Boyle is in the midst of a three-game points streak. … Center Michael Frolik has nine points (2g, 7a) in his last 10 games for the Panthers.

Injury Report -- Forwards Vinny Prospal (knee) and Chris Drury (finger) are on injured reserve for the Rangers, but defenseman Michal Roszival (shoulder) could return at some point this weekend.

Florida placed forwards Steve Bernier (broken orbital bone) and Rostislav Olesz (broken finger) on injured reserve Wednesday. Forward Byron Bitz remains on injured reserve recovering from sports hernia surgery. Stephen Reinprecht returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing the last two games with a groin injury. Defenseman Keaton Ellerby and Joe Callahan were recalled by Florida from Rochester (AHL) Wednesday.

Stat Pack -- Lundqvist had only 2 penalty minutes over his first five seasons in the NHL, but he has now amassed 4 PIMs over his last four games for the Rangers.

Puck Drop -- Although the Rangers showed poise in rattling off three unanswered third-period goals at Tampa, Tortorella was not too pleased with their effort as an entire team.

“There have been a handful of guys that’s done a lot of work for this club, and we need that other handful who haven’t to come and play in our next game,” Tortorella told reporter Jim Cerny.
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