FORT LAUDERDALE -- There was an interesting post that made the rounds on social media after Game 4.

Sergei Bobrovsky has one point in the series.

Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider have combined for zero.

If you look at the numbers, you’ll see that’s not as much of a fluke as you’d think.

Of the 50:06 of ice time that Zibanejad and Kreider have spent together at 5-on-5 on New York’s top line through the first four games of the Eastern Conference Final, 30:39 of that time has come against Florida’s top-defensive pair of Aaron Ekblad and Gustav Forsling.

If you’re the Rangers, that’s been pretty much a half hour of hell.

During that head-to-head ice time, the pair of Ekblad and Forsling has posted massive advantages in shot attempts (51-17), shots on goal (19-5) and scoring chances (20-7), resulting in just 0.44 expected goals for Zibanejad and Kreider at 5-on-5.

Entering the series, that duo had combined for nine even-strength points in 10 playoff games.

“They’ve been great all year,” Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk said of the team’s stalwart top pair. “Great in the playoffs, and continuing it this round. No matter who they’re on the ice against, they’re playing very well. They’ve been giving that line nothing and chipping in offensively as well, which is huge. They’re playing great hockey.”

But it hasn’t just been the top pair getting it done.

In 10:16 of 5-on-5 ice time against Zibanejad and Kreider, the Panthers’ second pair of Brandon Montour and Niko Mikkola has a noticeable edge in shot attempts (14-9), shots on goal (5-3) and scoring chances (7-3) while boasting an impressive 82.13% share of expected goals.

Less than a minute into overtime of Game 4, it was Mikkola breaking up a pass from Zibanejad at the blue line in the defensive zone that sprung Aleksander Barkov for the breakaway that eventually led to the Panthers earning a game-deciding power play.

On the ensuing man advantage, Sam Reinhart buried a one-timer from the slot to secure the 3-2 win and send the series back to New York tied 2-2.

After the game, Mikkola was awarded the “player of the game” puck by his teammates.

“He’s been great,” Panthers forward Anton Lundell said. “He’s an awesome guy. A Finn, so that makes it even better. He’s a great add to the team. He brings so much to the team on the ice and off the ice. He’s strong. He’s hard to play against. It’s more fun to have him on my team than the opposite team, for sure. He’s been unreal, for sure. He does his thing.”

Going back to Barkov, the top line has also of course been supporting the defense.

Over the 25:58 that Barkov, this year’s Selke Trophy winner, and Reinhart, who finished fourth in Selke voting, have spent against Zibanejad and Kreider, the Panthers have given up just seven shots on goal and five scoring chances, including only one scoring chance in Game 4.

When asked about his team's shut-down ability, Paul Maurice said it boils down to team play.

“It’s almost a combination of forwards and D’s,” the Panthers bench boss said. “You’ve got the Barkov effect, a Selke winner. It won’t necessarily happen on the road that they’re on the ice at the same time. Every team’s got, you can call ‘em a shutdown pair, but a team’s set of defense that over time spends the majority of their time against the other team’s best. When you play a team as deep as New York, then that leaves the Trocheck line, or the one of the two lines is going to hit the ice every single rotation not against those guys. I think it’s true of New York’s top four [defensemen] and our top four, when they’ve been called upon to limit time and space they’ve done a good job. The offense is this series is almost there.”

With a chance to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Final, the Panthers will try to continue to limit New York’s biggest weapons in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.

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