Home SPORTS Paying Overtime, Panthers Beat Rangers in OT to Even Conference Final Series

Paying Overtime, Panthers Beat Rangers in OT to Even Conference Final Series

by Ohio Digital News

This time, overtime was not the Rangers’ time.

Sam Reinhart scored a power play goal 1:12 of overtime to give the Florida Panthers a 3-2 win over the Rangers to even the Eastern Conference Final at two games apiece.

Game 5 is at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.

Once again, Florida put enormous pressure on the Rangers in their own zone and once again, Igor Shesterkin was brilliant as he made 37 saves and helped get the game to overtime with one great save after another.

Florida outshot the Rangers 40-23, including a 29-10 advantage over the second, third and overtime periods. Florida has had the edge on special teams with five power play goals in four games while the Rangers only have one after scoring 11 with the man advantage in the first two series.

Blake Wheeler, who was playing his first game since suffering a severe leg injury on February 15th, hooked Alexander Barkov :59 seconds into overtime to set up the game winning score.

They got behind us, it was a turnover at the offensive blue line,” Coach Peter Laviolette said. “There was a tough spot for him [Wheeler] to be in. There was a lot of heat on him, a lot of pressure. It was more what they did than him doing something.”

You wanna play the game five on five as much as you can, I thought we were able to capitalize on the power play too so it’s part of the game,” said Adam Fox, who had two assists. “The guy [Barkov] had a breakaway, I don’t think it was a bad penalty to take.”

The Panthers won the offensive zone face off and were set up as Barkov found Reinhart in the slot and he beat Shesterkin with a one timer, top shelf. Reinhart, who led the NHL with 27 power play goals during the regular season, scored his 8th of the playoffs as the Rangers dropped their first overtime game in this post season.

Mika Zibanejad continues to be invisible in this series and he made a terrible pass near the offensive blue line that led to the breakaway for Barkov, who drew the penalty on what could’ve been called a penalty shot.

Rangers have been sloppy with their stick work in these past two games and it’s led to extended time for the Panthers in the offensive zone. The Rangers still try too many East-West passes and Florida is sitting back and waiting for them to make mistakes.

The Rangers played a solid first period and had a 1-0 lead after one thanks to finally getting on the board on the power play.

Anton Lundell was called for high sticking Will Cuylle and the Rangers snapped an 0 for 8 skid with the man advantage.

Fox passed to Artemi Panarin along the right wing boards near the goal line and he found Vincent Trocheck in the slot for one of his two assists as the Rangers center one timed it over the right shoulder of Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 21 saves, for a 1-0 lead and his 8th goal of the playoffs.

The Rangers had a 12-11 shot advantage after one but the tide turned in the second period.

The Rangers had just killed off a penalty to Ryan Lindgren for holding when Gustav Forsling fired the puck towards the net. Shesterkin had trouble finding the puck along the right post and Sam Bennett was able to poke it over the goal line to tie the game at one.

The Panthers used the power play to take their first lead.

With Barclay Goodrow in the box for a delay of game penalty, Carter Verhaeghe, who has been outstanding for Florida, scored the go ahead goal. Verhaeghe was able to bat a loose puck in the air past Shesterkin for his 9th playoff goal to give Florida a 2-1 lead at 12:16 that they held after two.

In the third, Laviolette flipped Kappo Kakko and Jack Roslovic. Kakko moved up to the top line with Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, while Roslovic played on the third line with Alex Wennberg and Will Cuylle.

The change was made for me based on Kappo and what I saw in the first part of the game,” Laviolette said. “He [Kakko] was moving, he was protecting pucks. He was looking to create and generate so to try and make that switch to see if it could try to move the needle in the direction to the offensive zone.

Alexis Lafreniere, who has put on a show and grown by leaps and bounds in this post season, tied the game at the 3:28 mark of the third period.

Fox made a pretty spin-o-rama move in the offensive zone and got into the slot where he put a back hander on net. Lafreniere was at the left post and he was able to deflect the puck past Bobrovsky to score his 3rd goal in the last two games and his 7th of the playoffs to tie the game at three.

As the series goes on, a sense of urgency has engulfed the Rangers top players who have not performed.

Zibanejad and Kreider have not had a single point in the four games. Zibanejad has not scored a goal in his last 9 playoff games while Kreider last scored a goal with his hat trick in the series clinching game 6 against Carolina. Panarin had two assists but has not scored a goal in his last 7 playoff games.

To his credit, Kreider took full responsibility. “I just needed to make a couple of plays,” he said. “I think I single handedly harpooned a few of our possessions in the o-zone, throwing a couple of passes that didn’t sit flat or just whiffing on them entirely and putting them on their tape.”

The Rangers and their longest tenured player know they can play better. “We’ve got to do a better job of advancing pucks up the ice and establishing o-zone presence,” Kreider said. “A lot of that falls on me, I gotta be able to get in there and win pucks, get my body on pucks, move my feet and allow us to get up the ice and start rolling, cutting back and making plays at the net.”

The series is down to a best two of three as Florida dominated the play in at least five of the eight periods of hockey (that includes two OT periods) in the past two games with a 197-87 advantage in shot attempts in games 3 and 4.

The pressure on the top players to perform is increasing with every game as the Panthers have done a terrific job keeping them off the scoresheet.

The Rangers need to elevate their game and spend more time in the offensive zone while taking some pressure off of Shesterkin who has been nothing short of supernatural so far.

Keeping their hopes and their season alive will depend on it.

The post Paying Overtime, Panthers Beat Rangers in OT to Even Conference Final Series appeared first on NY Sports Day.

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