NEW YORK – The Florida Panthers will try to take a 2-0 series lead when they face the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final at Madison Square Garden on Friday.

“Every game, we learn something about ourselves and about them,” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. “I don’t know if going into the game and expecting something is the right thing. You just go into the game and do your thing. We know what we need to do.”

Improving to 5-1 on the road in this year’s playoffs, the Panthers played their usual suffocating brand of defense in a 3-0 win over the Rangers in Game 1 on Wednesday.

Holding New York to just 23 shots on goal – including a stalwart stretch of nearly 15 minutes in the second period in which they didn’t allow a single puck to get to their net – the Panthers took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Matthew Tkachuk in the first period and never looked back.

In the third period, Carter Verhaeghe doubled the lead to 2-0 when Rangers forward Alexis Lafrenière poked a cross-ice pass through the pads of Igor Shesterkin for an own-goal. Not long after that, Sam Bennett buried an empty-net goal to make it 3-0 with just 1:19 left.

Earning his second-career playoff shutout, Sergei Bobrovsky stopped all 24 shots he faced.

Making seven high-danger stops, the 35-year-old veteran’s biggest save of the came less than a minute into the second period when he shut down Will Cuylle on a breakaway.

Over his last six starts, Bobrovsky is 5-1 with a .936 save percentage.

“For him to work so hard every single day, it’s contagious to our team,” Barkov said of Bobrovsky’s commitment to his craft. “Every single guy sees that, notices that. The things he does, they’re not for everyone. But you can see what he’s doing and want to work as hard as him to become as good as him. It’s just incredible to see how he works day in, day out.”

Slowing down one of New York’s biggest weapons, the Panthers went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill in the win while allowing just three scoring chances and one high-danger shot attempt.

Entering the series, the Rangers were operating at over 30% on the man advantage.

“We’ve got to be in shot lanes,” said Panthers forward Kevin Stenlund, one of the elite penalty killers in the playoffs right now. “We know everyone can score. We’ve got to block shots and be in lanes and try to have good sticks. We’ve just got to help each other out.”

Across the ice, the Rangers will look for their big guns to step up in Game 2.

In Game 1, the line of Vincent Trocheck, Artemi Panarin and Lafrenière was the only one to finish with above a 50% shot share for New York at 5-on-5. When that line was on the ice, the Rangers led 15-9 in shot attempts and 8-4 in shots on goal, but also trailed 1-0 in goals.

Not generating much of anything from the moment the puck dropped, the line of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Jack Roslovic was essentially a non-factor. When that line was deployed at 5-on-5, the Rangers mustered only one shot on goal over 8:46 of ice time.

Looking for a spark, many fans and pundits are calling for hulking forward Matt Rempe to slot in.

A physical specimen at 6-foot-7 and 241 pounds, the 21-year-old rookie appeared in 17 games during the regular season, notching a goal, an assist and 71 penalty minutes. Last suiting up in Game 5 of Round 2, he’s scored one goal in seven playoff games thus far.

With reports from New York’s morning skate implying that Kaapo Kakko might be a healthy scratch in Game 2, it would likely be Rempe or veteran Blake Wheeler taking his spot.

We'll see.

Regardless, the Panthers are only focused on their own game.

“Just take it shift by shift,” Stenlund said. “Don’t get frustrated.”

Looking back at how the playoffs have unfolded thus far, Game 2 has very been interesting for the Panthers in both of their previous series against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins.

In Round 1, the Lightning responded with a great performance in Game 2 after losing Game 1, but still lost in overtime. In Round 2, the Panthers bounced back from a 5-1 loss to the Bruins in Game 1 with an 6-1 beatdown in Game 2, which set the tone moving forward in the series.

As they now try to go up 2-0 in this series, the Panthers are expecting New York’s best hockey.

“The mentality for us is that maybe don’t take that deep breath,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said. “It’s one game, right? It was 1-0 with three minutes left to go [in Game 1]. This is going to be a tight and probably long series. It’s going to be a grinder. … They have the emotional advantage coming into tonight and we’ve got to find a different way to get ours.”


Goals: Verhaeghe (7)

Assists: Tkachuk (11)

Points: Tkachuk (16)

Hits: Ekblad, Luostarinen (40)

Blocks: Reinhart (20)


Goals: Kreider (7)

Assists: Zibanejad (11)

Points: Trocheck, Zibanejad (14)

Hits: Trouba (42)

Blocks: Trouba (49)


“I was pretty lucky to come to a team that was already built to win. I saw right away, the culture. The work everybody puts in – the coaches, the players, the staff – it’s been incredible to see.” – Anton Lundell

“You want to win every game. It’s a new game today. We’ve just got to play our game.” – Kevin Stenlund

“A lot of things we can do better [on the power play]. We want to be on the same page. We want to work harder. I think, of course, we wanted to work hard. But I think we can execute better. We didn’t make plays.” – Aleksander Barkov

“If we have the puck, we’re going to get hit. If they have the puck, they’re going to get hit.” – Paul Maurice


- The Panthers are 4-0 when leading after two periods in this year’s playoffs.

- Sergei Bobrovsky has allowed two or fewer goals in four of his last six road playoff starts.

- The Panthers own a 95.2% penalty kill success rate over their last eight games.

- Aleksander Barkov is winning 56.7% of his faceoffs in the playoffs.

- Matthew Tkachuk has tallied six points (1G, 5A) over his last five games.



Vladimir Tarasenko – Aleksander Barkov – Sam Reinhart

Carter Verhaeghe – Anton Lundell – Matthew Tkachuk

Eetu Luostarinen – Sam Bennett – Evan Rodrigues

Ryan Lomberg – Kevin Stenlund – Nick Cousins


Gustav Forsling – Aaron Ekblad

Niko Mikkola – Brandon Montour

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Dmitry Kulikov


Sergei Bobrovsky

Anthony Stolarz


- May 6: F Patrick Giles recalled from Charlotte (AHL)


When: Friday, May 24 at 8 p.m. ET

Where: Madison Square Garden – New York, NY

TV & Streaming: ESPN, ESPN+

Radio: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 92.1 WZZR (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 101.7 WCZR (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM Channel 220 / App & Streaming 932; Panthers App

Watch Party: Baptist Health IcePlex & Backyard FTL

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