Florida Panthers win their second straight, defeating the Rangers 4-3 in shootout

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 10: The Florida Panthers celebrate their shootout win against the New York Rangers at the BB
SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 10: The Florida Panthers celebrate their shootout win against the New York Rangers at the BB /

After thrashing the Montreal Canadiens last Thursday, the Florida Panthers were right back at it against the New York Rangers tonight, hopeful that they could extend their win streak to two-games.

Newly acquired Frank Vatrano made his Panthers debut in tonight’s contest, slotted on the second line beside Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck. Would Vatrano’s presence give the Panthers the edge in this match tonight?

The Panthers started the game off slow, pinned in their own end for quite some time. New York, who have chosen to offload a bunch of assets at the Trade Deadline, were coming into this game as spoilers. Nothing was on the line for the Rangers in this game; but, they began the period like they were a team competing for a playoff spot.

Roberto Luongo was peppered with shots early on, but he managed to stop them all. New York were throwing everything they had at Luongo, showing desperation early on. The Panthers on the other hand were asleep, bailed out by their net minder on numerous occasions.

Scrappers Micheal Haley and Cody McLeod both went for a little dance in the opening five minutes. Haley, who is significantly shorter than McLeod, got a few good punches in the fight, showing no signs of intimidation. The fight ended with Haley getting the best out of McLeod, despite no one dropping to the ice.

Later in the period, the Rangers received the first power play of the night, courtesy of MacKenzie Weegar’s high-sticking call. For the most part, the Panthers defended the Rangers’ power play well, limiting their scoring chances in their own end. The Cats managed to kill off the Rangers’ man advantage, preserving the score at zero a side.

A few minutes later, Frank Vatrano bolted down the ice and into the Rangers’ zone, creating a beautiful scoring opportunity for Jonathan Huberdeau. Frank managed to blow by Kevin Hayes in the process, throwing a puck on net which reached Huberdeau in the slot. Huberdeau then took a quick snap-shot which hit off the post and stayed out.

Just before the period ended however, the Panthers received their first man advantage of the night, through Rob O’Gara’s interference call on Michael Matheson. The power play started off horribly, but progressed as time went on.

With 15 seconds left, Jonathan Huberdeau broke the deadlock, giving his side a 1-0 lead. Vincent Trocheck wristed a shot on goal, which trickled by Lundqvist’s legs and remained near the goal line. Huberdeau pounced on the loose puck and stuffed home the game’s opening goal:

Huberdeau’s power play goal would send the Cats into the dressing room a goal up. For the Panthers, the first period wasn’t their best effort, nor was it what we expected. Luongo deserved full credit for keeping the Cats in the game, because who knows what the score could’ve been if it wasn’t for him.

Florida managed to turn it around to begin the second, starting the second period off on the right foot. The Panthers were dominating and creating momentum in the Rangers’ zone for quite some time, while the Rangers were desperately trying to escape the Panthers’ attack.

The Rangers could only hold on for so long, until newly acquired Frank Vatrano scored to double the Panthers’ lead. That’s right, you heard it right, Frank Vatrano scored on his Panthers’ debut. The youngster slotted home the game’s second goal, courtesy of Vinnie Trochek’s behind-the-back pass:

But momentum suddenly changed, as the Rangers started to apply pressure in the Panthers’ zone, looking to reduce Florida’s lead. Mats Zuccarello slashed the Panthers’ lead in half, when he tipped home Neal Pionk’s point shot:

With four minutes remaining in the second, the Panthers went back to the man advantage for the second time tonight. The Cats created some good scoring opportunities from it, but failed to cash in. Shortly after the Panthers’ power play expired, Jared McCann rang a wrister off the goal post, making that the second goal post hit for the Panthers tonight.

The Cats concluded the second period with a 2-1 scoreline, improving their play in comparison to the first. The third period would be a must-win period if the Cats wanted to walk away with two points; however, would they pull through?

Florida began the third terribly, allowing Mika Zibanejad to score in the opening 17 seconds of the final period. Mika waltzed his way into the Panthers’ zone, sending a backhand shot over Luongo’s blocker and in:

Unexpectedly though, the Panthers didn’t crumble. Sure, they blew a two-goal lead and allowed the Rangers to get right back into the game, but they regained their lead fairly quickly, thanks to Jamie McGinn.

Alex Petrovic threw a shot on goal, which deflected off of Lundqvist’s pad and bounced towards Jamie McGinn’s stick. McGinn pounced on the loose rebound, regaining the Panthers’ one-goal lead (3-2):

Although, it was long after McGinn’s goal until the Rangers leveled up the score once again. This time, Kevin Hayes walked right in on goal, firing a wrist shot over Luongo’s blocker:

Both sides would fail to score after Hayes’ goal, sending the game into overtime, where the next goal would grab the extra point. Overtime was back and forth between both teams, but it was Luongo’s play that saved the Cats from possibly losing out on that extra point.

Between Barkov, Huberdeau and Zibanejad, none of those three could break the deadlock, sending the game into a shootout. Mats Zuccarello would shoot first, scoring on his first attempt. His backhand-forehand move would be too much for Luongo to stop, as the veteran net minder failed to guess the right way.

Jonathan Huberdeau shot next, failing to score on his attempt. Huberdeau tried his famous one-handed backhand, but ultimately failed to score. Mika Zibanejad would shoot second for New York, but his attempt at Luongo’s five-hole wasn’t creative enough.

Aleksander Barkov was second for the Cats, and boy did he ever need to score. Like always, Barkov pulled off one of his gorgeous moves, leveling the shootout at one apiece:

Ryan Spooner was New York’s third shooter, who like Zibanejad, was denied in result. With the game on the line with Trocheck’s shot, Vinnie could grab the extra point for the Cats. And grabbing the extra point he did! Vincent Trocheck came down the ice and slotted the puck past Lundqvuist’s five-hole:

The Florida Panthers would go on to win their eighth straight game at home, while also extending their win streak to two-games!

Overall, the Florida Panthers started the game off asleep, allowing the Rangers to dominate play throughout the majority of the first. But in the end, the Panthers found enough fire power to gain the extra point. Your Cats are back in action on Monday, March 12th @7:30pm against the Ottawa Senators!