SUNRISE, Fla. – Playoff hockey can be cruel, right?

Despite finishing with lopsided advantages in both shot attempts (108-44) and scoring chances (46-20), the Florida Panthers came up just short in a 5-4 overtime loss to the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amerant Bank Arena on Sunday.

Trailing 2-1 in the series, the Panthers will try to pull even in Game 4 on Tuesday in Sunrise.

“There’s times you want to keep it, eat it and let it burn for a while and find a different kind of energy source,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said of the loss. “I think if you put up what we put up today and don’t come away with a win, you should be a little growly.”

On an early power play after good pressure led to a delay-of-game penalty by the Rangers, the Panthers opened the scoring and set off the powder keg of a crowd when Sam Reinhart walked the goal line before burying a backhander to make it 1-0 at 2:50 of the first period.

Reinhart's power play goal gives Florida early lead.

Then, in the blink of an eye, the Rangers responded with a pair of goals to take the lead.

Just 25 seconds after Alexis Lafrenière beat Sergei Bobrovsky with a backhander a partial breakaway to make it 1-1 at 7:17, Barclay Goodrow, who scored the winner in overtime in Game 2, tipped in a quick shot from Braden Schneider to put the Rangers up 2-1 at 17:42.

Back on the power play after a roughing penalty from Rangers forward Matt Rempe, the Panthers responded and got the score knotted up once again when Reinhart -- after batting down a clearing attempt -- beat Shesterkin off his backhand again to make it 2-2 at 14:46.

“You can say we dominate, but then you look at the mistakes that led to their goals,” Reinhart said. “There’s areas of improvement, for sure.”

In the second period, Lafrenière continued to shine when he toe-dragged through Florida’s defense before finishing off the highlight-reel sequence with a goal to put New York up 3-2 at 15:23.

A few minutes later, the most-controversial moment of the game occurred when Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba elbowed Evan Rodrigues in the head. Despite a long and well-documented history of headshots, Trouba somehow received just a two-minute penalty.

After the game, Maurice opted not to comment on the incident.

“I think I’ve got enough on my plate," he said. "I’m not going to do any refereeing or player safety tonight. I’ll stick with the coaching.”

On the ensuing penalty kill, Goodrow scored a shorthanded goal to put New York up 4-2 at 18:14.

Switching up their lines in the third period, the Panthers got the spark they needed.

Kickstarting the comeback, Aleksander Barkov set up just outside the blue paint and re-directed in a centering feed from Carter Verhaeghe to cut the deficit to 4-3 at 5:04.

“Sometimes you need that,” Barkov said of the line changes, which saw him reunited with Verhaeghe on the top line. “Sometimes you need to create something different. I guess it worked for us in the third period. We got going. We moved better and competed better.”

Less than two minutes later, the Panthers pulled even when – after a faceoff win for Rodrigues in the offensive zone – Gustav Forsling took a pass from Matthew Tkachuk, skated into the left circle and picked a corner with a snap shot to make it 4-4 at 6:58.

Forsling snipes top shelf to tie the game at 4-4.

Despite giving up those two goals, Shesterkin was the hero for New York in the third.

Under attack throughout nearly the entire 20 minutes, the former Vezina Trophy winner did everything he could to limit the damage and help get the Rangers to overtime. In the period, the Panthers led 14-3 in scoring chances, but came away with just those two early goals.

“We had the puck and a lot of chances,” Panthers forward Anton Lundell said. “Just weren’t able to score there.”

In the extra frame, the Rangers found a way for the second straight game.

Digging in his skates in front of Bobrovsky's crease, Alex Wennberg tipped in a shot from Ryan Lindgren to secure the 5-4 win for the Rangers with his first goal of the playoffs at 5:35 of overtime.

Even in defeat, the Panthers are encouraged by their play heading into Game 4.

“Not happy with end result, but I think there’s some good things from the game we can take to the next game,” Barkov said. “All we’ve got to do is recover now and move on.”


“We’ll take the parts of the game we think we can improve on. We’ll look at those. We’ll take the parts of the game we like a lot and try to manufacture more of it.” – Paul Maurice

“In playoffs it doesn’t really matter how you lose. If you lose 6-1 or in overtime, it’s still a loss. We just have to manage ourselves now, take care of ourselves, recover well and move on.” – Aleksander Barkov

“It was a tight game. Obviously we don’t want to give that much for them. A good comeback, a good battle all the way until the end. We had our chances in the third, but today we weren’t able to score the last goal.” – Anton Lundell


- The Panthers led 21-4 in scoring chances in the third period.

- The Panthers led 3.83-1.69 in expected goals.

- The Panthers have scored a power-play goal in each of the last two games.

- The Panthers improved to 8-for-8 on the penalty kill in the series.

- Brandon Montour blocked a team-high four shots.

- Gustav Forsling has recorded a point in three of the last four games.

- The Panthers led 35-4 in shot attempts at 5-on-5 when Matthew Tkachuk was deployed.


Trailing 2-1 in the series, Panthers will try to pull even in the Eastern Conference Final when they host the Rangers for Game 4 at Amerant Bank Arena on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET.

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