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Rangers-Panthers Preview @NHL
Rangers-Panthers Preview

GAME: New York Rangers (8-5-3) at Florida Panthers (6-7-2).

TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST.

Two weeks into the season, the Florida Panthers sat atop the Southeast Division. An extended road trip now sees them looking up from the middle of the pack.

The Panthers play their first home game in nearly three weeks when they welcome the New York Rangers to the BankAtlantic Center.

Florida has not played on home ice since a 3-2 win Oct. 20 over the Washington Capitals. Scheduling and the postponement of two home games due to Hurricane Wilma resulted in a 1-3-2 record during a six-game road swing.

Florida lost its fifth in a row Saturday, 2-0 to the Carolina Hurricanes. Roberto Luongo made 27 saves for the Panthers, who kept the game scoreless for two periods.

"We were in the game, we had our chances," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. "But it boiled down to a power-play goal late in the third. ... We didn't generate anything on our power play."

Florida is 0-for-11 on the power play the last two games and ranks 27th in the league overall at 13.6 percent. Its penalty-killing unit allowed eight power-play goals during the losing streak and 20 overall.

This game starts a season-long five-game road trip for the Rangers, who also will play the Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina.

New York is 4-0-1-1 in its last six trips to South Florida.

The Rangers saw their two-game winning streak end with a 3-2 loss Monday to Pittsburgh. Ryan Hollweg and Marcel Hossa scored third-period goals for New York.

The Rangers are 4-0-1-1 in its last six trips to South Florida.

Right wing Jaromir Jagr had his 12-game points streak end in Monday's loss and has not played well at Florida in his career. Jagr has not scored a point in his last four games there since a goal Oct. 24, 2001, and has just seven goals and five assists in 19 games.

Like the Panthers, the Rangers enter this game struggling on their power play. New York has converted just 3 of 37 chances with the man advantage in it's last seven games after scoring 15 in 60 opportunities in the first nine.

The Rangers penalty-killing unit, while third overall, is 17th on the road, having given up eight goals in 43 short-handed situations.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 8): Rangers - 19 points, 1st place (tied), Atlantic Division. Panthers - 14 points, 3rd place, 7 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Rangers - Jagr, 14 goals and 23 points; Martin Straka, 14 assists; Darius Kasparaitis, 30 PIM. Panthers - Nathan Horton, 7 goals; Olli Jokinen, 9 assists and 12 points; Branislav Mezei, 37 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 8): Rangers - Power play: 18.5 percent (18 for 97), 15th in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.8 percent (94 for 107), 2nd (tied). Panthers - Power play: 13.6 percent (13 for 95), 25th. Penalty killing: 79.8 percent (79 for 99), 22nd (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Rangers - Kevin Weekes (3-3-1, 0 SO, 3.11 GAA); Henrik Lundqvist (5-2-2, 1, 1.76). Panthers - Luongo (6-6-2, 2, 2.75); Jamie McLennan (0-1-0, 0, 1.61).

SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 17; Rangers, 4-0. At New York, Lundqvist made 23 saves for his first career shutout and Jagr scored power-play goals 42 seconds apart in the second period. Luongo stopped 38 shots in the first two periods before being pulled for McLennan.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 3-3-1 on the road; Panthers - 4-1-0 at home.

Associated Press
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