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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Maurice Wants to See ’Growl’ from Florida Panthers After Game 3 Loss



Florida panthers
Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov and captain Sasha Barkov watch the replay after Alex Wennberg scored in overtime giving the New York Rangers a 5-4 win in Game 3 on Sunday evening. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

SUNRISE — For the second straight game, the Florida Panthers fell to the New York Rangers in overtime of a game they dominated for large portions of.

Only this time, coach Paul Maurice was not in as chipper of a mood as he was after his team lost Game 2 on Friday night.

Maurice said he does not want his team to forget this 5-4 overtime loss to the Rangers and move on.

Not after Alex Wennberg deflected home the winner 5:35 into overtime.

The Panthers, Maurice said, need to live with this one for a minute.

“You want to keep the growl,” Maurice said.

“Sometimes in the playoffs, it’s making sure that you keep that energy and you cut off your losses and you let it go. Then there’s times when you want to keep it, and eat it, let it burn for a while and find a different kind of energy source.

“So you put up whatever we put up tonight and you don’t come away with the win, you should do a little growling.”

Certainly, there were positives for the Panthers.

Florida made a two-goal comeback in the third where it outshot the Rangers 13-4, led scoring chances 21-4 and were 8-1 in high-danger chances.

They even carried that into overtime, outshooting New York 6-4 and leading 6-1 in scoring chances.

Florida played the same style of game Maurice wanted his team to build on after the Game 2 loss but the results were not the same.

New York did more with less.

Part of that was skilled players playing with fire and finding their spots in the right moments.

It was certainly that way for Alexis Lafreniere.

He tied the game up after Sam Reinhart opened the scoring early in the first, plowing his way past the Florida defense before beating Sergei Bobrovsky with a glorious backhand shot.

After Barclay Goodrow scored his first of two goals and Reinhart tied it up, Lafreniere showed off again, creating a chance with some powerful skating once, slipping past a defender with a nifty toe drag and giving the Rangers the lead with 4:37 to go in the second.

Florida’s power play got a big opportunity after a controversial Jacob Trouba hit on Evan Rodrigues only drew a minor penalty — along with an unrelated penalty Trouba took earlier in the shift — and got four minutes of work late in the second period.

Only it was Goodrow who was left wide open in the left circle after a defensive breakdown by the Panthers and he took advantage for his third goal in two games.

He wired a shot past Bobrovsky to give the Rangers a two-goal lead going into the third period.

Maurice swapped up his lines looking for a punch.

He put Carter Verhaeghe with Reinhart and Sasha Barkov looking to add more speed to that line while restructuring the middle lines to get them going.

And it paid off.

Barkov deflected a Verhaeghe shot past Igor Shesterkin 5:04 into the third period to bring the Panthers back within a goal.

Gus Forsling rifled one off of a feed from Matthew Tkachuk to tie the game 1:54 later.

But Shesterkin kept the Rangers in the game, making 10 saves while his team was desperately trying to get the puck out of its zone.

Was that missed opportunity looming in the Panthers’ minds in the locker room going into OT?

“We were down 4-2, we came back and we were all pumped up and excited,”  Barkov said. “There were some good things in the game for sure that we can take away for the next game.”

They did come out with a lot of jump in the third and did have chances, but that does not solve the fact that the Panthers are down 2-1 in the series now.

As quickly as they took home ice advantage with a win in Game 1, they lost it in Game 3 and they have an uphill battle against the Presidents’ Trophy winners.

But with the way they played, they know exactly what they need to do to bounce back.

Just with a little more fire.

“I think you saw how we recovered from it,” Reinhart said. “We were on our toes a little bit more, had a little bit of urgency, I thought we minimized their chances, I thought our gap was better. We just need that same intensity.”

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

  • When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • 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: Florida 3, @New York 0; Game 2: @New York 2, Florida 1 OT; Game 3: New York at Florida, Sunday; 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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