Reeling Panthers fall to Rangers in overtime for fourth straight loss

Just over two weeks ago, the Panthers kicked off a critical five-game home-stand. Sitting at 3-5-0, there was plenty left to prove and improve upon.

When Kevin Shattenkirk scored 1:08 into overtime, the Panthers found themselves in almost the exact same spot as they were before, only in a slightly deeper hole at a 4-7-2 record.

With Roberto Luongo returning to the lineup after suffering a right hand injury on October 20th against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Panthers had a chance to redeem themselves after allowing 15 goals in their previous two games.

Instead, they tacked four goals onto that total, tying it a franchise-worst 20 goals allowed over a three-game span.

“Not great,” said Luongo when asked how he felt after his 39-save performance. “I think my timing was a little bit off. I only had, I think, one full team practice so I wasn’t as sharped as I would have liked to have been, but I battled. At the end of the day I knew what I was getting into even though I didn’t practice much, but I wanted to play tonight.”

They continued their scoring ways, adding four goals of their own, but it almost didn’t matter as they were entrenched in a typical back-and-forth game with the Rangers, who defeated the league-leading Lightning in a similar fashion less than 48 hours ago.

Out of the lineup for the last five games with an upper-body injury, Colton Sceviour made a splash in his return to the Panthers’ fourth line on Saturday, scoring his team’s first two goals.

The first came on a fall, backhanded feed by Micheal Haley from the inside of the right face-off circle, which wound up in the slot for Sceviour to redirect top shelf on Henrik Lundqvist.

With the game tied at one in the second period, Sceviour scored again, this time putting a loose puck at the top of the blue paint through the legs of an unassuming Lundqvist.

Haley and Derek MacKenzie each recorded two assists as the Panthers’ fourth line finished with a total of 6 points and 11 shots on goal.

“I felt good,” said Sceviour, whose two goals came on six of those 11 shots. “It was nice to get back out there, obviously. We’ll go from there.”

Said head coach Bob Boughner of the fourth line’s performance: “I thought they gave us everything they had. They created offensively. Those guys were all in on the [penalty] kill as well. I thought they were a good line for us tonight.”

The Rangers countered twice, once to tie the game for the second time and again to take the lead.

Michael Grabner, who was briefly a Panther in 2010, took advantage of puck that went over the head of Aaron Ekblad and finished off a backhand-forehand move in tight to make it 3-2.

Connor Brickley and Jared McCann also returned to the Panthers’ lineup after missing the last three and five games respectively with injuries. McCann set up Nick Bjugstad for two grade-A scoring chances, but both were denied.

The Rangers’ first, second, and fourth goals of the night came off point shots with the latter being redirected in front by Rick Nash to give them a 4-3 lead just past the halfway point of the third period.

With Luongo on the bench for the extra attacker and under two minutes remaining in the game, Vincent Trocheck rifled a wrist shot into the top corner past Lundqvist, tying the score at four apiece and forcing the Panthers’ second overtime period of the season.

The Rangers prevailed despite an improved defensive effort, especially over the past several games, by the Panthers. It wasn’t an effort that meant more pucks cleared away from the crease, fewer times hemmed in their own zone, and better exits.

Most of the Rangers’ chances came from the point compared to the Panthers who continue to generate shot attempts in the slot and around the net, something that’s usually a recipe for success.

Even-strength shot attempts were even among the two teams while the Panthers edged the Rangers in scoring chances and high-danger shot attempts.

Penalties and a struggling power play came back to bite the Panthers, especially Connor Brickley’s tripping penalty in the third which gift-wrapped the Rangers a goal to take the lead.

“It’s obviously better to get one [point]than none,” said Trocheck. “But at the same time once you’re in that position and you’re tied up and you go into overtime, it’s a 0-0 game. You can’t look at it like we stole one. We still want those two points.”

The Panthers haven’t won since scoring eight goals to take down the Anaheim Ducks at the start of their home-stand on October 26th.

They’ll play six of their next seven games on the road, including each of the next three beginning Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Game notes:

  • Mackenzie Weegar, Owen Tippett, and Antti Niemi sat out as healthy scratches.
  • The Panthers allowed no goals in the first period. The last time they allowed zero goals in period was the third period of last Saturday’s game against the Red Wings.
  • Aleksander Barkov went 13/24 (54%) in the face-off circle while Vincent Trocheck won 10 of 15 (67%) face-offs taken.
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