SUNRISE, Fla. – It was a goal Sam Reinhart had scored dozens of times this season.

But never in a moment like this.

On the power play in overtime, Reinhart set up just inside the right circle, took a pass from Aleksander Barkov and buried a one-timer to lift the Florida Panthers to a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amerant Bank Arena on Tuesday.

“The confidence was good,” Reinhart said. “We’ve been going a little bit quicker [on the power play] with a higher pace the last couple. The confidence is there. It was good composure early to withstand their pressure. That’s how the middle of the ice opened up.”

If you felt a little déjà vu watching the goal, that’s understandable.

Of the NHL-leading 27 goals that Reinhart potted on the power play during the regular season, many of them looked exactly liked tonight’s winner.

“If he’s open obviously we want to look for him,” Barkov said of Reinhart, who’s scored eight goals in this year’s playoffs after netting a career-high 57 during the regular season. “When he’s in the slot, just get the puck to him. He’s scored a lot of goals from there. He works really hard in the practices shooting from there. We want to get the puck to him. That’s what happened.”

Tied 2-2, the series will now shift back to the Big Apple for Game 5 on Thursday.

“Any time you’re 2-2 instead of 3-1, it’s huge,” Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe said.

Entering the game sitting at 0-for-8 in the series on the man advantage, the Rangers finally broke through on the power play and opened the scoring when Vincent Trocheck went bar-down on a cannon of a one-timer from the slot to make it 1-0 at 8:51 of the first period.

Easing some of the tension a bit in the arena, the Panthers evened the score in the second period when Sam Bennett, a few seconds after Florida's power play expired, managed to squeak the puck through Igor Shesterkin’s pads from the left side of then net to make it 1-1 at 8:45.

Bennett's goal makes it 1-1 in the second period.

Sometimes, it just takes one for everyone to exhale.

“Any time you’re at home and you get a goal, it gives you a ton of momentum,” Verhaeghe said of Bennett breaking the ice. “That’s kind of what happened with Benny’s goal. Obviously, a huge goal at a critical time. To get us that momentum was huge.”

Less than four minutes later, Verhaeghe, taking some tips from the Miami Marlins, stepped up to the plate and whacked a floating puck past Shesterkin from on top of the crease on the power play to make it 2-1 at 12:16 with his team-leading ninth goal of the postseason.

Verhaeghe's backhand goal on the power play makes it 2-1.

Just like Bennett’s opening goal, getting to the net was key once again.

“We’ve been throwing a lot at him (Shesterkin), trying to get a lot more shots on net,” Bennett said. “They’ve been doing a good job of blocking shots. They’re not always pretty. Sometimes they’re really greasy. That’s how playoff-hockey goals are scored.”

If not for several big saves Shesterkin – including a robbery on a vintage backhand from Barkov – the damage could have been much worse for the Rangers during the second period as the Panthers finished the frame with a 19-4 edge in scoring chances.

Shesterkin finished with 37 saves in the game, while Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 21 of 23 shots for Florida.

“He’s obviously one of the best goalies in the league and he’s here for a reason,” Verhaeghe said of Shesterkin, who’s been the MVP for the Rangers thus far. “Every team has a really good goalie, and he’s one of the best. I think it’s just about making his life difficult.”

Facing some tired legs after an icing, the Rangers tied the game in the third period when Adam Fox made a few nice moves before setting up Alexis Lafrenière, who’s been on a scoring tear as of late, for a tap-in goal from the left side of the net to make it 2-2 at 3:28.

That was the only offense the Rangers could muster over the final 20 minutes as the Panthers continued to dominate possession and keep the puck in New York’s zone.

Over the second and third periods, the Panthers led 88-17 in shot attempts.

But just like Game 3, they were unable to find an extra goal before overtime.

However, unlike Game 3, they would be rewarded this time around for their dominance.

After Niko Mikkola broke up an attempted pass from Mika Zibanejad to Blake Wheeler at Florida's blue line, Barkov won a foot race with Wheeler and grabbed the puck with nothing but open ice ahead. Doing the only thing he could, Wheeler then hooked Barkov to the ice.

While it looked like the captain might initially get a penalty shot, there’s no complaints about the official's ruling now.

Just 12 seconds into the ensuing power play, Reinhart, who won the offensive-zone draw with some help from Barkov, sent a missile straight past Shesterkin to lock in the 3-2 win.

Reinhart buries one-timer for the overtime win.

“That was just a bunch of elite guys with phenomenal hands,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said of the spectacular display of passing that occurred on the play.

Even after two straight defeats in overtime, the Panthers, with a chance to get the series evened back up at 2-2, never had a doubt they wouldn’t get it done this time around.

“There’s no tension,” Bennett said of the team’s mindset heading into overtime. “Our team’s been great at that really going back to last year. Any time we’re in those high-pressure situations, overtimes, we’re super relaxed in the locker room, super confident. There’s really no worry. We have the most belief that someone in this locker room’s going to get it done. It was Reino tonight.”


“Just believe it’s going to come at some point, and it did today. Just keep working hard and never get frustrated. Only enjoy what you do. Enjoy the hard work that we put in. It’s going to come eventually.” – Aleksander Barkov

“I saw him (Sam Reinhart) wide open there and I’m pretty confidence he’s putting that one in. He has an awesome shot. Obviously, he made no mistake on that one. It was awesome to see.” – Carter Verhaeghe

“We started making more plays and getting back to our game that we’ve had success with all year. It was good composure by our part. We just calmed down in the second and third [periods] there.” – Sam Bennett

“I thought we were tight. That’s the best way I can describe it. Both teams want it so bad. They’ve invested so much hard work just to get there. I thought we were tight. Then after the first [goal], we just played.” – Paul Maurice


- Gustav Forsling became the second defenseman in franchise history to record at least 10 points in a single postseason.

- Sam Reinhart’s game-winning goal was the fastest to start an overtime period in franchise history.

- The Panthers led 16-6 in high-danger shot attempts, per

- Sam Bennett and Carter Verhaeghe each posted 10 shot attempts.

- The Panthers have scored five power-play goals over the last three games.

- Steven Lorentz went 6-for-7 (85.7%) in the faceoff circle.

- Brandon Montour led Florida’s defensemen with seven hits.

- Sergei Bobrovsky made three high-danger saves.


We’re heading back to the Empire State!

Trying to break the deadlock and gain an edge in the Eastern Conference Final, the Panthers will face off against the Rangers in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.

For information on watch parties in South Florida, visit