The Florida Panthers complicated the New York Rangers playoff plans on their way to a 3-2 victory. Jacob Markstrom led the way with 34 saves helping the Panthers steal a game in which they were outshot 36-16.
Here are some thoughts from the game:
- Despite giving up 36 shots, the Panthers were strong defensively throughout the game. The Rangers struggled to generate quality scoring chances and whatever chances they did have, Jacob Markstrom was there to shut the door.
- Speaking of Markstrom, tonight’s game was huge for the young net minder. After a string of shaky performances, Markstrom has now been impressive in two straight games. A strong finish to the season will go a long way towards relieving any doubts about Markstrom’s future with the Panthers.
- Tonight’s game had plenty of playoff implications. The Rangers had a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Winnipeg Jets loss. The Jets held up their end losing to the Capitals, which clinched the Southeast Division title for Washington, but the Rangers failed to capitalize. In other playoff news, the Islanders clinched a spot by picking up a point in a shootout loss to Carolina.
- On the other end of the spectrum, the two points Florida picked up in the win prevented the team from clinching last place in the NHL. With two games remaining and 34 points, the Panthers could plausibly catch the Avalanche who have 37 points. (Of course this would not be a good thing as the 30th place team has a better chance of winning the Draft Lottery and the number one pick that comes with it.)
- The Panthers held off the Rangers for the better part of the game but when Jonathan Huberdeau took a penalty with 3:12 remaining I got that familiar feeling that the Panthers were on the verge of blowing the lead. Fortunately that feeling proved to be unfounded as the Panthers impressively stood their ground and when the Rangers pulled Lundqvist for the two man advantage, Drew Shore came through and slotted home what turned out to be the game winning goal.
- Drew Shore’s goal was his third of the season and his first point in his past eighteen games. It also snapped a 22 game goal drought for Shore dating back to February 28th.
- Jonathan Huberdeau was originally credited with an assist on the Panthers first goal but the point was later rescinded after the goal was given to Fleischmann instead of Kuba. This is important because Huberdeau is tied with Cory Conacher for the rookie scoring lead at 28 points and the assist would have given Huberdeau the lead.
- The Panthers play their final home game on Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs before wrapping up their season on the road Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
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