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Rangers try to keep roll going against Panthers

by Dave Lozo
PANTHERS (29-33-10) at RANGERS (39-30-4)

TV -- FS-F (HD), MSG (HD)

Last 10 --
Florida 3-4-3; New York 6-4-0

Season series --
Despite the 14 points that separate them in the standings, the Panthers have gotten the best of the Rangers this season, winning two of three meetings. Florida earned a 4-3 victory at Madison Square Garden in their most recent matchup on Jan. 25.

Big story -- The Panthers are playing for pride; the Rangers are playing for playoff positioning. Despite a major sell-off at the trade deadline, Florida is 3-2-1 in its last six with wins over the Blackhawks, Lightning and Maple Leafs. Meanwhile, the Rangers have won six of seven and are riding their first four-game winning streak since Dec. 2009.

Team Scope:

Panthers -- Playing some inspired hockey the past couple weeks despite their playoff hopes being a long shot at best, the Panthers looked to be on their way to another victory against the New York Islanders on Sunday. But a 2-1 lead in the third period turned into a 4-3 shootout loss.

David Booth had a chance to win the game in overtime with a penalty shot, but he failed to score. On the bright side, the Panthers picked up a point in three of their last four games.

"Disappointing. You go in the third with a 2-1 lead, give up four shots, have a penalty shot in overtime with a chance to win it and end up losing the game," coach Peter DeBoer said. "I thought we deserved better, but you have to give the Islanders credit. They're opportunistic."

Rangers -- It looked like the Rangers were going to fall in Pittsburgh when they trailed 2-1 early in the third period. A major elbowing penalty to Matt Cooke led to a Chris Kunitz shorthanded goal, but a double minor to Matt Niskanen for high-sticking opened the door for the red-hot Rangers power play to score twice and go on to a 5-2 victory.

"It's pretty easy to get down on ourselves [and] hang our heads after letting up a goal on the power play like that," said Ryan Callahan, who scored the winner at 5-on-4 just as Cooke's penalty expired. "But to our credit, we showed a lot of character coming back and still working."

Who's hot --
Sergei Samsonov has 2 goals and 7 assists in 10 games since he was picked up in a deadline day deal from the Carolina Hurricanes. … Buoyed by a four-goal game on March 6 against the Flyers, Callahan has 7 goals in his last six games.

Injury report -- Florida's injury list includes young wingers Jack Skille and Shawn Matthias (ankle), center Scott Timmins (concussion), defenseman Alexander Sulzer (upper body) and forward Rostislav Olesz (leg).  … Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, who battled a knee injury earlier this season, missed Sunday's game in Pittsburgh with an undisclosed injury and did not practice Monday. McDonagh, who took that elbow from Cooke to the head, also didn't skate Monday.

Stat pack -- Since acquiring Bryan McCabe from the Panthers, the Rangers' power play is 10-for-37 (27 percent); it was clicking for a goal just 16.8 percent of the time before his arrival 10 games ago. … The Panthers' penalty kill is 12-for-12 in its last three games.

Puck drop --
"Right now it's fun. When you're winning, everybody's having fun." -- Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist

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