|@ Rangers (41-24-8)||1||1||2||4|
Both teams were extremely defensive in the first few minutes of play, neither getting a shot on goal in until nearly four minutes passed. The shots that were taken were largely in favor of the Rangers, though. They were working Montoya hard with multiple rebounds on the few shots they had and eventually, Monty gave in. Viktor Stalberg shot the puck and Montoya had no chance of saving it, so the Rangers took an early lead. The Panthers were able to get the puck down to the offensive zone, but they usually could not even get a shot off when they did. The Rangers were sharp defensively and it was really hurting the Cats. The frame ended with roughing penalties for both Dominic Moore and Vincent Trocheck after a little scrap behind Lundqvist’s net. At the end of the period, the Rangers led 1-0 and they also led in shots on goal 8-3. The Panthers couldn’t score this period because they could not shoot. In order to win this game, the Panthers must find out how to get past the Rangers’ defenders. The team’s defense was okay but the Rangers had even better defense. The Cats need to account for the Rangers’ skill.
Vincent Trocheck headed back to the penalty box just as quickly as he left it this period, this time for a hooking call. Mats Zuccarello was able to take advantage of this opportunity by scoring on an odd-man rush. At this point, it seems like this was just going to be one of those games. The Panthers were still in single digits in shots on goal by the halfway point of the game, which was clearly part of the problem. Steven Kampfer and Derick Brassard got into a bit of a conundrum after a Kampfer hit on Glass in the neutral zone. As a result, the two were awarded delay of game penalties. Both penalties were killed, but the Rangers were making big strides to score anyway. In a valiant effort late in the period, Vincent Trocheck nearly scored. There was much traffic around the net, and the puck hit the goal post once or twice in the sequence.
The team did not score, but these chances lit a spark in the Panthers, who began to shoot the puck more and more. At the end of the period, the Panthers trailed 2-0. They also trailed in shots on goal 23-12. What the Cats needed to realize and began to see toward the end of the period is that this is not Jimmy Howard or Jonathan Bernier or any other questionable goaltender that we have played against recently. Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best goalies in the league and in order to score on him, the Panthers are going to have to do a lot of hard work. Hopefully, they will be successful on this front in the third.
The Panthers started off the third much better than they started the first and the second, or so we thought. Steven Kampfer hit the puck high and it went over Lundqvist and in. However, the goal was disallowed because it was hit with a high stick.
The Panthers kept pushing, though and finally, they were able to score. Who else would be able to do it than Vincent Trocheck? He scored a goal off of an odd-man rush, assisted by Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith.
The Cats were beginning their comeback, but this was halted once Jonathan Huberdeau was penalized for high sticking. Jussi Jokinen had a shorthanded opportunity, but it was Rick Nash of the Rangers who was able to score off of a turnover to end Florida’s momentum. After this goal, it became clear that the Panthers would not be winning. Montoya left the net and Viktor Stalberg was sent to the sin bin on a tripping call, giving the Panthers a two man advantage for the rest of the game. Jiri Hudler was able to score on the advantage, putting the Panthers within one. The goal was assisted by Teddy Purcell and Dmitry Kulikov. Sadly, this wasn’t enough. Tanner Glass scored on the empty net and the Rangers won 4-2.
Vincent Trocheck can always be counted on to turn things around for the Panthers and tonight was no exception for him. He scored midway through the third to put the Panthers on the board. Jussi Jokinen, who assisted the Trocheck goal, also had multiple scoring opportunities tonight, as well as a should-have-been goal. Jiri Hudler had a great goal late in the third to instill a bit of hope in the team.
The Panthers will continue their road trip on Thursday, March 24th against the Boston Bruins at 7:00 pm ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.