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Florida Panthers Get Key Point, Move South to Philadelphia



Florida panthers
Evan Rodrigues pushes the puck up ice during the third period of an eventual 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Rangers at MSG on Saturday night. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)

The Florida Panthers did not end their losing streak on Saturday night against the New York Rangers, but they did staunch the bleeding quite a bit.

Most importantly, they looked like themselves again.

Despite icing a makeshift lineup without a number of key pieces, the Panthers went the distance with the Rangers, losing 4-3 in a shootout.

“I am real happy with it,’’ coach Paul Maurice said. “How hard they played, the effort … they were pulling for each other and it has been a bit of a grind for us. The element we haven’t been able to grab in our game was there tonight. I was very happy with it.’’

Florida had lost its previous three games in regulation, so, getting a road point on the first half of a back-to-back is not great.

But it is certainly better than nothing.

Going into the game, not many had much faith Florida could slow the fast-moving Rangers — but the Panthers did just that.

“When we got to our game, we played pretty well,’’ Matthew Tkachuk said. “You want to play the top teams to get you ready and we’re trying to stay in the moment. These are a great test. That’s a great team over there. This was pretty entertaining. I’m sure everyone enjoyed it.’’

Playing without three of its top-6 defensemen is never easy, but the Panthers got some terrific games out of replacements Uvis Balinskis and Rudy Bjornfot for starters.

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With goals from Tkachuk and Eetu Luostarinen, Florida had a 2-0 lead early in the second period.

When New York started rolling, it can be hard to stop. The Panthers did survive.

The Rangers got goals from Adam Fox and Artemi Panarin 2:01 apart to tie the score, but it stayed that way until Carter Verhaeghe uncorked one from the right circle with 4:08 remaining.

New York quickly tied it on a traffic-buster from Panarin.

“We kicked it twice,’’ Maurice said. “We’re going to start a football club.’’

Both teams relied on their goalies for the remainder, with both Sergei Bobrovsky and Igor Shesterkin standing strong.

Both teams had opportunity to win the game in overtime but it came down to the skills competition with New York taking a 2-1 lead into the third round.

Although Bobrovsky stopped Vincent Trocheck in Round 3, Vladimir Tarasenko was stopped by his old New York teammate in net and that was that.

“In Dallas we won, and that game meant nothing to us,’’ said Maurice, whose team trailed the Stars 3-0 midway through the second but got three power-play goals in the third to win 4-3. “This was far more valuable for us in what we learned. … This game was good, we played hard. … Don’t get me wrong, I hate losing. But, more than I hate losing is coming out looking like we’re not prepared to play hard. I’ll sleep good tonight.’’

The Panthers quickly packed up their gear and made their way to Philadelphia where the surprisingly streaking Flyers await.

Even though Florida went 2-0-1 in the season series against the Metropolitan-leading Rangers, it is 0-2 against John Tortorella’s Philly firecrackers.

The Flyers have beaten the Panthers twice by 2-1 scores in Sunrise and could definitely use a win tonight to keep pace in the playoff race.

Philadelphia has gone 2-0-1 in its past three and beat Boston on Saturday allowing Florida to pick up a point on the Bruins in the standings.

Florida, meanwhile, would like to come home with two points to set up a potential showdown for first place with Boston on Tuesday at The Vault.

“Kind of a crazy back-to-back, playing at 6,’’ Tkachuk said. “But we’ll grind it out. We’re built for these kinds of games.”

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



  • When: Sunday, 6 p.m.
  • Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Season Series (Flyers Lead 2-0) — At Florida: Flyers 2, Panthers 1 (Feb 6); Flyers 2, Panthers 1 (March 7). At Philadelphia: Sunday.  
  • Last Season: Philadelphia won 2-1
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Philadelphia leads 58-37-6, 7 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Tuesday vs. Boston, 7 p.m. 

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