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Third period goals lift Panthers over Rangers

Sportsnaut
Dec 29, 2021; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) watches the puck during the second period of the game against the New York Rangers at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 29, 2021; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) watches the puck during the second period of the game against the New York Rangers at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Carter Verhaeghe scored the go-ahead goal with 9:29 left in the third period as the host Florida Panthers rallied to beat the New York Rangers 4-3 on Wednesday night in Sunrise, Fla.

The Panthers entered the third trailing 2-1, but they tied the score on a goal by MacKenzie Weegar and went ahead on Verhaeghe’s wrist shot. Anthony Duclair followed with Florida’s third goal of the period.

New York pulled goalie Igor Shesterkin (28 saves) for an extra attacker and got a Chris Kreider goal with 45 seconds left, cutting its deficit to 4-3. But the Rangers ran out of time as they searched for the equalizer.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves to earn the win. Rookie Anton Lundell scored Florida’s other goal.

The Rangers (Dec. 17) and Panthers (Dec. 16) each played their first game after a league-wide hiatus. Both squads entered the game ranked among the top six in the NHL in points percentage.

Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad each had one goal and one assist for New York.

The Panthers, who lead the NHL in home wins (15-3-0), prevailed for the first time since Dec. 10. They hadn’t won a home game since Dec. 4.

New York, tied for second in the league in road wins (11-5-2), opened the scoring with 11:08 gone in the first period as Ryan Strome’s long pass connected with Panarin on a breakaway, one-on-one with Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Panarin stickhandled the puck behind his back and let it trail between his legs, leaving Ekblad flailing. Panarin then slipped the puck between Bobrovsky’s pads to complete a spectacular play.

The Panthers, though, stayed in the game by killing the only two penalties in the first period.

Florida tied the score with 5:09 expired in the second. The play started with a Panarin turnover collected by Ryan Lomberg, whose shot was saved by Shesterkin. Gustav Forsling gathered and shot from the circle. Shesterkin stopped the puck again, but this time he left a juicy rebound in the slot for Lundell.

Panarin atoned for his mistake later in the second, stealing the puck from Radko Gudas and dishing a backhander to his right. Zibanejad came racing in to collect the pass and scored on an open right side of the net.

The Panthers tied the score with 14:04 left in the third on the goal by Weegar. Verhaeghe’s wrist shot deflected in off of Shesterkin’s blocker, and Duclair scored with 5:20 left on a blistering shot just below the crossbar.

Duclair’s goal helped Florida withstand New York’s rally, which featured Kreider’s tap-in tally.

–Field Level Media