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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Florida Panthers Play Tight on the Road — And That’s Perfect



Florida panthers
Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky deflects a shot by New York’s Mika Zibanejad as Sam Reinhart looks for the rebound during the second period of Game 1 on Wednesday night. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

ESPN analyst Ray Ferraro said the Florida Panthers played “a near-perfect road game” in their Game 1 win over the New York Rangers.

Ferraro knows what he speaks, having played 1,258 regular season and 68 playoff games in his 18-year career.

It didn’t take a wise man like Ferraro to come to that conclusion.

Florida’s relentless forecheck was primarily responsible for the Panthers’ 3-0 win on Wednesday night, which gave them home-ice advantage.

Oh, but this series has a long way to go.

Sergei Bobrovsky, who earned his second career playoff shutout, is not quite ready to declare victory.

He earned his pay in the last ten minutes of the game when he had a lot of work.

He also stopped two breakaways, which could have completely changed the game’s outcome.

“It’s one game,” said Bobrovsky, whose team will try and take a 2-0 series lead tonight.

“There is lots of hockey ahead of us. It’s a great way to start.”

Coach Paul Maurice is not ready to get overconfident either: It was only one well-played game.

“You’re playing the President’s Trophy winner,” Maurice said. “The best team in the National Hockey League. They’re getting theirs.”

Maurice has already hit the video track to adjust where needed, even though the Panthers won most  battles.

“I have a really strong idea of what Peter’s going to want to improve in his game,” Maurice said of his New York counterpart, “and I got one in mine. We have a list that we started already. ‘This guy needs to see video, that’s got to change,’ and he’s going to do the exact same thing.”

Up 1-0 in the third, Alexis Lafreniere knocked a Carter Verhaeghe crossing pass into the back of the net.

But, the play started with Florida’s pursuit, causing goalie Igor Shesterkin’s poor clear.

That is what led to the Panthers’ second goal.

It took the edge off the late flurry by the Rangers.

It was Florida’s pursuit throughout the game which limited the Rangers to 12 shots over the first two periods and took away almost any opportunity for Artemi Panarin and the rest of the Rangers’ sharpshooters.

Peter Laviolette said he thought his team was “slow out of the gate in the first.”

That is not only an understatement but does not give proper credit to Florida’s road-ready forecheck.

The 3-0 final score was misleading.

Although Florida outplayed the Rangers, this was a very close game.

The Rangers are a good team.

They will learn from their shortcomings in Game 1 and come out strong in Game 2.

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

Panthers lead Best-of-7 Series 1-0
  • When: Friday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
  • National TV: ESPN
  • 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: Panthers 3, Rangers 0; Game 2:Panthers at Rangers, Friday 8 (ESPN); Game 3:Rangers at Panthers, Sunday 3 (ABC); Game 4: Rangers at Panthers, Tuesday 8 (ESPN): Game 5*: Panthers at Rangers, Thursday May 30, 8 (ESPN); Game 6*: Rangers at Panthers, Saturday June 1, 8 (ABC); Game 7*: Panthers at Rangers, 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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