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Panthers Wrap-Up: Rangers 6, Panthers 1

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 1 0 0 0 1
Rangers 2 1 3 0 6
FLA - J. Huberdeau (14)
NYR - PP - D. Brassard (9), PP - R. Nash (18), M. Zuccarello (2), M. Zuccarello (3), D. Brassard (10), B. Richards (7)

NEW YORK, NY —  (AP) - Rick Nash had a goal and assist in the first period, and Ryan Callahan had a pair of assists as the New York Rangers hung on to eighth place in the Eastern Conference with a 6-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

Derick Brassard and Nash both scored power-play goals, with help from Callahan in the first, and Mats Zuccarello found the net for the second straight game to give the playoff-hopeful Rangers their sixth win in nine games (6-2-1)..

"There's always a big picture. The game finished ugly. That's the nature of it. [Playoff teams] are what we're going to see from here on out. They are cookie monsters out there, hungry at the end of the game."

- Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen.
1. Early Power Play Success: The Panthers played the Rangers well early and in fact over the first two periods but found themselves trailing in large part do to the lack of penalty killing success in the first period. The penalty bug bit early as Erik Gudbranson went off for concealing the puck 2:23 in. The Rangers took 42 seconds to score as Derick Brassard scores from in close off a scramble in front of the net. It took four seconds less for them to score on their second power play of the night, this time with Dmitry Kulikov in the box for hooking. There, Rick Nash took the cross-ice feed from Ryan Callahan and wristed a shot low and past Scott Clemmensen just 9:10 into the game, giving the Rangers the big two-goal lead.

2. Huberdeau's Beauty: The Panthers superrook going through a goal-scoring drought by his standards (one goal in last 17 games) cut the Rangers lead in half with a fantastic goal, set up by Shawn Matthias. Matthias sped through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone before finding Huberdeau just below the blue line. The rookie took the pass, deked a charging Mats Zuccarello, skated in and then fired far side, top shelf on Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist to make it 2-1 with 4:43 to play in the first. It was the shades of Huberdeau in March when he was making highlight reel goals on a nightly basis. The goal helped his Calder Trophy (best rookie) cause as it increased his rookie goal lead to 14 and point lead to 28.

3. Unable To Find More As Wheels Come Off Late: Despite what the final score says, the Panthers played the Rangers tough for the first 55 minutes of the game. They had excellent chances on Lundqvist but the Rangers goaltender was big in coming up with numerous saves on Panthers skaters. He flashed his glove on at least three different Panthers rushes and then used his pads to thwart several other chances. The end result came as New York tagged on three goals in the final five minutes of play. First it was Brad Richards putting a shot in off Zuccarrello off a rush with the forward recording his second of the game with 4:49 to play. Then Brassard recorded his second of the game with 3:25 to play. Richards made it a 6-1 final with 1:24 left to play.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@ETerrik: #stillbelieve @FlaPanthers #believered

@84alloy: Missed the game #FlaPanthers game, but it doesn't hurt any less.

@wgudbranson: Challenging season but keep faith. Good years to come. Puck hasn't bounced their way all year

@Ashley_Cascio: My fam has been @FlaPanthers ticket holders since 93 & last place or 1st I'll love them no matter what.Future is bright #loyalty #RedRising 

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Jon Asher: Played a good game, gave up at the end. Can't wait for next year. Should be promising

Marsha Grant Ocain: Where oh where is the dislike button?

Civia Verstraete: UGH! Kids are so great to watch anyways. Fun hockey!

Kenneth Andersson: So painful to Watch.

2. The Rangers got two power plays in the opening nine minutes of the game and they scored on both of their opportunities. In fact their goals on each occasion came on the first shot of each man advantage as Derreck Brassard and Rick Nash scored.

 Center Nick Bjugstad had a productive third period as he recorded all three of his shots on goal in the final 20 minutes of play. That was a quarter of the Panthers shot total.

Defenseman Alex Petrovic made his NHL debut on Thursday night, playing in 18:30 while two shots and three hits. He became the eighth Panther to make his NHL debut this season, joining Jonathan Huberdeau, Mike Caruso, Drew Shore, Quinton Howden, Jon Rheault, Eric Selleck and Bjugstad.

It took a long while for Jonathan Huberdeau to net his 14th of the season, but he did so to retake the NHL rookie lead back as he was tied with Montreal's Brendan Gallagher and is now tied for second (with Shawn Matthias) on the team in goals, just behind Tomas Kopecky's 15.

26. Center Marcel Goc was a busy man in the face-off circle as he took over half of the Panthers face-offs, finishing with 26 on the night. He won 62 percent of his draws (16-of-26). Florida meanwhile had 51 face-offs as a team, winning 27 of them (53%).

Henrik Lundqvist
Came up with several big stops when the Panthers were pressuring for the equalizing goal as well as a goal to make it a 3-2 game, stopping all but one shot on the night.

35 Shots, 34 Saves, .971 SV%
The Panthers close up their four-game road trip with day games on back-to-back days. First they'll be in New Jersey on Saturday (1pm). The teams have split their season series with both winning on home ice. The Devils did pick up a point in a 3-2 overtime loss in Sunrise. New Jersey has struggled immensely to go from a team in the playoffs to the outside looking as they just snapped a 10-game losing streak Thursday night, shutting out the Flyers by a 3-0 score. The Devils are led offensively by forward Patrik Elias (31 points in 42 games) while Martin Brodeur has a 2.25 GAA but is just 11-8-7 with a .901 save percentage on the season.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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