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Rangers Edged By Panthers in Shootout

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

The Rangers' struggles at Madison Square Garden continued with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers Friday night.

Mats Zuccarello scored twice and J.T. Miller added another, but Aleksander Barkov beat Antti Raanta for the only goal in the shootout to decide the game.

"When you lose a game in overtime or a shootout it's always a disappointment," Raanta said. "Of course you want to give yourself one or two goals, not three every night. You want to be the guy who can help the team to win. I think we still had lots of chances today but we couldn't score."

Video: FLA@NYR: Zuccarello finishes passing play with PPG

Zuccarello opened the scoring just 2:34 into the game. With the Rangers on the power play, Derek Stepan carried the puck into Florida's zone and hit Chris Kreider with a pass. Kreider then fed Zuccarello in the slot for goal to put New York up 1-0.

Miller would double the lead just 1:37 later when his wrist shot from the circle beat James Reimer low for his 20th goal of the season.

But despite two goals on the Rangers' first three shots, the Panthers weathered the Rangers' early storm and outshot New York 11-7 in the first period.

"There's no doubt that our group came ready to play today," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We had a real good start, we had the first five scoring chances. The last 10 minutes of the first and the second period, we just didn't sustain it. We stopped moving our feet the way we can and we stopped moving the puck the way we can, and they were the better team during that time."

The offense came in the second for Florida, who lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday evening. Jonathan Huberdeau got the Panthers going when he put home a rebound that clanked off the post for his sixth of the year to cut the Rangers' lead to 2-1 1:25 into the middle frame.

With Brady Skjei in the box for interference, Jussi Jokinen would convert on a nice pass from Thomas Vanek to knot the game, 2-2, at 6:41.

Barkov would put the Panthers ahead for the first time when he buried a cross-ice pass from Jaromir Jagr on a 2-on-1 7:23 into the third period.

Video: FLA@NYR: Zuccarello snaps in second goal of game

Zuccarello's second of the night would tie the game again when his wrist shot from the circle beat Reimer at 11:45. 

After Zuccarello and Mika Zibanejad were stopped in the first two rounds, Barkov put on a dazzling backhand move on Raanta to put Florida up a goal in the shootout. Michael Grabner would miss the net on his attempt to end the game.

The loss dropped the Rangers to 0-4-2 in their last six home games.

"We try to figure out why we are so good on the road and why it changes at home," said Rick Nash, who had a strong effort but was held off the scoresheet. "We have been through a lot of video and we can see the differences on video. It seems like we play straight lines on the road, get pucks deep, and at home we try to make the cute plays and not get as many shots on net. We are trying to bring that road game home."

Vigneault echoed his sentiments from earlier today - and for much of this current losing streak at home - in that his team does not focus on a home and road way to play.

"I said it this morning and I'm going to say it again," Vigneault said. "200 by 85, whether you're here or in Philly or anywhere else, it's the same ice surface. For 30 minutes we were able to play a real strong game. You have to put 60 minutes together. There's no overthinking about it, it's just as simple as that."

The Rangers have little time to dwell on Friday's shortcomings, as they head to Minnesota to take on the Wild.

"We didn't play our best but we got a point," Nash said. "We had the chance for two. It's a quick turnaround. You have to have a short memory. We've got to bring our A Game tomorrow playing against one of the best teams in the League."

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