NEW YORK — The Florida Panthers head into the All-Star break with a loss after losing to the New York Rangers 5-2 to end their four-game winning streak Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
In that four-game winning streak starting on Jan. 25, the Panthers scored 22 goals which was the most by any team in that span.
Eight of those goals came from their 8-4 onslaught of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.
Overall, in the month of January, the Panthers stood alone as the best team in the league offensively.
During the calendar month, they scored a league-leading 74 goals and a 29.6 percent power play that ranked fourth in the league.
Florida’s offensive onslaught would not continue into February — at least for now.
Mika Zibanejad got things started early, going on an odd-man rush and putting a wide-angle backhand shot that deflected off of Gus Forsling’s stick and past Spencer Knight just 35 seconds into the game.
It initially looked as if Owen Tippett tied the game with a wrist shot from the high slot 9:20 into the game, but the New York Rangers challenged the goal for offside.
Upon review, it appeared that Aaron Ekblad entered the zone early off of the odd-man rush, negating the goal.
Just 1:24 later, Anthony Duclair tied it up for real.
With a snap shot from the high slot off of a Sasha Barkov feed, Duclair made it a 1-1 game with 9:16 to go in the first period.
While the first period ended 1-1, the Panthers dominated play for the most part.
They led in shots (15-7), scoring chances (12-8), high-danger scoring chances (4-2) all while having possession for most of the first period.
Florida did not let off the gas to start the second.
After the Panthers already got two shots on goal in the first 1:13 of the period, Frank Vatrano drew a holding penalty.
Barkov hit the post after a clean zone entry, but Sam Reinhart was able to pot the rebound home just 2:18 into the period.
That lead did not last long, however.
Alexis Lafreniere snuck behind the Florida defense and slid a backhand shot through Knight’s five-hole to tie the game 1:09 later.
Carter Verhaeghe drew two penalties in the second period, one of them off of a breakaway following a huge save from Knight with 12:06 to go in the second, but the Panthers could not get anything going.
Following the second of those power play opportunities, Verhaeghe hooked Ryan Strome while he was breaking into the offensive zone with 3:14 to go in the second period.
Chris Kreider made Florida pay, deflecting a feed from Strome past Knight to give the Rangers the 3-2 lead with 2:35 to go.
A minute later, Reinhart had a golden opportunity to tie the game off the rush, beating Igor Shesterkin with a move, but Jacob Trouba was able to shield the puck away from an open cage with his stick.
The Rangers were able to gain their footing in the second, outshooting the Panthers 14-6, and it paid off for them as they held a 3-2 lead at the break.
New York slowed the game down in the third, holding Florida to just four shots and three scoring chances in the first 11:40 of the period.
That would not change to end the game.
Mason Marchment took a high sticking penalty with 6:18 to go and the Rangers were able to get their death blow.
Kreider got his second goal of the night from his favorite spot on the ice — the front of the net — as the Rangers took a 4-2 lead with 5:21 to go.
The Panthers were outshot 36-35 as the Rangers held on and won the game, adding an empty net goal with 40.2 seconds remaining.
Florida heads into the All-Star break with a 32-9-5 record (69 points) which stands alone at the top of the NHL standings.
The team will take a two-week hiatus before returning to action on Feb. 16 against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Colby’s Three Stars of the Game
1. Chris Kreider, New York
2. Sasha Barkov, Florida
3. Mika Zibanejad, New York