The Florida Panthers began a three-game road trip and lost to the New York Rangers 4-2 at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. The Panthers have lost two straight games and remain on top of the Atlantic Division over the Tampa Bay Lightning by two points. The Rangers have won eight of their nine meetings against Florida and jumped over the Pittsburgh Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Midway through the first period, the Rangers pulled out to a 1-0 lead at 11:15. Viktor Stalberg came into the Panthers zone on a two-on-one break and performed a back-and-forth pass with Dominic Moore. Stalberg then put a backhand shot from the top of the crease between the pads of Al Montoya. The Cats were held to just two shots on goal in the first 19 minutes.
The Blueshirts made it 2-0 at 3:33 of the second period on the power play. Mats Zuccarello scored his 23rd goal of the season following assists by Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan.
Florida made a dent in the deficit at 6:51 of the third to make it a one-goal game. Vincent Trocheck entered into the Rangers zone and connected a pass to Jussi Jokinen on the left wing. He returned it to the low slot where Trocheck redirected the puck by Henrik Lundqvist for his 23rd goal and 50th point of the season. Jokinen set a new a new career high with his 39th assist on the play.
The Rangers got a tally with 8:46 remaining in the period following a Teddy Purcell turnover in his own zone. Kevin Klein was in the top slot and moved the puck to Rick Nash in the low right circle for a one-time slapshot.
The Panthers finally got a power-play opportunity in the final minute of the contest and added an extra attacker. It worked as they converted with 35.7 seconds left. Dmitry Kulikov flicked a shot from the right point which was deflected on net by Purcell in the slot area. Jiri Hudler swept in the rebound from the blue paint.
Former Panther player Tanner Glass finished things off with an empty-net goal with 8.2 seconds to go. Klein earned his second assist on that play.