The Florida Panthers are heading home with a new lease on life, after capping off a perfect 2-0-0 trip with a 5-4 win against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.
Denis Malgin, who was recalled from AHL Springfield on Monday, scored the game-winning goal with 1:09 left in regulation, taking a pass from Mark Pysyk and beating Rangers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec with a powerful slap shot from the high slot. The win snapped New York's eight-game winning streak at home.
"I just came in and I saw Pysyk had the puck," Malgin said, describing his goal to FOX Sport Florida's Randy Moller post-game. "He passed it to me and I just shoot it as hard as I can and, yeah, it went in."
The Panthers, who defeated the Devils, 3-1, in New Jersey on Monday, improve to 10-12-2 on the season and, despite their admittedly sluggish start, now find themselves just three points behind the Detroit Red Wings for third place in the Atlantic Division.
"We've played lots of games this year where we've dominated a team and we should have had a point, if not two," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "You look back at some of the games on the road trip and we didn't have anything to show for it. Tonight, we found a way against a team that probably dominated us for the most part. It's a nice feeling when you can find ways to win those games."
Here are five takeaways from Tuesday's victory in New York…
1. FIRST PERIOD FUN
The Panthers set the tone early against the Rangers, scoring two goals on their first four shots of the game. Florida entered the game having scored the fewest first-period goals in the league (13), but managed to jump out to a 3-0 lead on goals from Aleksander Barkov, Jamie McGinn and Micheal Haley. Florida is now 7-3-1 when scoring first this season and 4-1-0 when leading after the first period. "Our start obviously helped push us through a little bit and gave us a bit of a cushion," Boughner said.
2. REIMER REBOUNDS
James Riemer, making his first start since Nov. 18, made just enough saves - including a few highlight-reel stops - to earn his first victory since Oct. 26. After shutting out New York through the game's first 20 minutes, Reimer allowed three goals in the second period and one in the third, finishing the night with 33 saves on 37 shots. "Reims came up big when we needed him and made some big saves," Boughner said. Reimer is now 1-3-1 in his past five starts. "It's a different kind of difficulty," Reimer said when asked about the extended time in between starts. "At the same time, you stay ready in practice. You practice hard and try to be in as good of game shape as possible."
3. HALEY HELPING THE CAUSE
Haley, Florida's resident enforcer, scored his first goal of the season and as a member of the Panthers on Tuesday night. Known more for his fighting than his finesse with the puck - he leads the Panthers with 61 penalty minutes - Haley now has four points (1-3-4) on the season, with, oddly enough, three of them coming against the Rangers. A key player on the fourth line, Haley, who inked a two-year deal with the Panthers this summer, has played in all 24 of Florida's games this season. For a more in-depth look at Haley's first goal of the season, keep scrolling!
4. LUNDQVIST PULLED
It ain't easy being king. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was pulled from Tuesday night's game with a little more than three minutes remaining in the first period after allowing three goals on six shots. Haley's goal, of course, being the dagger. Lundqvist, who was making his 13th straight start, entered the night with a 2.28 goals-against average and .930 save percentage over his last 12 games. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 19 of 21 shots in relief. "I think it's a huge win for us," Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau said. "It's a good two points and a good road trip."
5. TWO IS GOOD, BUT THREE IS BETTER
The Panthers have now won back-to-back games for the third time this season. A three-game winning streak, however, has eluded them in both of their attempts to extend those streaks. If they hope to inch even farther out of this early-season hole, players like Huberdeau know that they can't afford to keep taking two steps forward and one step back. "I think there's a lot more we can do," he said. Florida will look to make it three straight when it hosts the San Jose Sharks at the BB&T Center on Friday.
BONUS: FIVE FRAMES
In five frames, here's how Micheal Haley's first goal of the season came to be…