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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Florida Panthers Get Big Plays From ‘The Other Guys’

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Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky looks for the puck which deflected off defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson on a shot by Filip Chytil in overtime of Game 2 on Friday night at Madison Square Garden. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Had the Florida Panthers pulled out a victory in overtime against the New York Rangers on Friday night, he who scored the game-winning goal would be hailed as the hero.

For an example, just look no further than Barclay Goodrow.

It was his shot from the top of the slot with 5:59 left in overtime which gave the Rangers a hard-fought 2-1 win to even the best-of-7 series at a game apiece.

And, he deserves it.

Goodrow was selected by the media — and a certain FHN publisher — as the No. 1 star of the game.

Well deserved honor.

His shot changed the game and the trajectory of this series.

But what had Florida won?

We certainly would be talking more about the game brought by the likes of Gus Forsling, Ryan Lomberg and Oliver Ekman-Larsson than we are now.

All three had terrific games.

And, had it not been for OEL and his rear end, Filip Chytil likely would be feted as the top star.

First, we start with Forsling.

The Florida defenseman did everything but get on the scoresheet for the Panthers in Game 2.

Not only did he lead all skaters with 31:20 off 38 shifts, but 4:33 of that was shorthanded.

When the Panthers were killing off a 4-on-3 in the second, Forsling did not seem to leave the ice.

Two of his four blocked shots came on that disadvantage and he helped Florida’s penalty kill go 4-for-4 against the vaunted New York power play.

Then there is Lomberg.

Coach Paul Maurice hated keeping him out of the lineup during the Tampa Bay and Boston series, but knew once No. 94 went back in, he could be a difference maker.

Since his return in Game 6 of the Bruins series, he has been noticeable just about every time he hits the ice.

Friday night, Lomberg was a whirling dervish, getting five shots on goal and four hits in just over 10 minutes of playing time.

Not only did he drill Mika Zibanejad in open ice, but he also put a big hit on Jimmy Vesey to separate him from a puck. Vesey left with a suspected shoulder injury and did not return.

Then there is the play Ekman-Larsson made.

Midway through overtime, Sergei Bobrovsky made a save on Chris Kreider, but the rebound came wide.

Chytil picked it up and fired it at the yawning net that Bobrovsky was out of position on.

The shot hit, as Forrest Gump would say, in the buttocks, and ricocheted around Bobrovsky and out of harms way.

You also have Dmitry Kulikov, who only was credited with two hits, but was very active — especially going into the backwall where he dumped Matt Rempe on his wallet with a hip check.

This time of year creates all sorts of heroes — Lomberg scored the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 3 against the Lightning in 2021 which started Florida’s 11-game OT playoff winning streak — and the Panthers had their share of candidates on Friday.

But, to the winner goes the spoils.

And the glory.

For the most in-depth coverage of the Florida Panthers:

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
FLORIDA PANTHERS (ATL1) V. NEW YORK RANGERS (MET1)

Best-of-7 Series Tied 1-1

GAME 3
  • When: Sunday, 3 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • National TV: ABC
  • Streaming: ESPN+/Hulu
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Series Schedule — Game 1: Florida 3, @New York 0; Game 2: @New York 2, Florida 1 OT; Game 3: New York at Florida, Sunday 3 (ABC); Game 4: New York at Florida, Tuesday 8 (ESPN): Game 5: Florida at New York, Thursday 8 (ESPN); Game 6*: New York at Florida, Saturday June 1, 8 (ABC); Game 7*: Florida at New York, Monday June 3, 8 (ESPN). (*) — If Necessary.
  • How They Got Here: Florida d. Tampa Bay 4-1, Boston 4-2; Rangers d. Washington 4-0, Carolina 4-2.
  • Last Season vs. Rangers — Regular Season: Rangers won 3-0
  • This Season (Panthers Won 2-1) — At Florida: Panthers 4 Rangers 3 (Dec. 29). At MSG: Panthers 4, Rangers 2 (March 4); Rangers 4, Panthers 3 OT (March 23).
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Rangers lead 61-34-8, 6 ties
  • Postseason History: Rangers Lead 1-0 (1997 1st)

 

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