New York Rangers Stun Florida Panthers For 2-1 Series Lead

New York Rangers forward Alex Wennberg celebrate after he scored the overtime winner to lift the Blueshirts over the Florida Panthers 5-4, in Game 3 during the Eastern Conference finals of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs, Sunday, May 26, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports) How Alex Wennberg, New York salvaged Game 3

The New York Rangers continue to prove they’re a team of destiny. What the Blueshirts pulled off in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday at the Florida Panthers rink was miraculous. They were getting hammered and hemmed in the defensive zone and bombarded with shots left and right. The Panthers were relentless and dominant, with the shot attempts finishing with 108 compared to the Rangers’ measly 44. No, that’s not a typo, 108-44. Yet, New York won anyway, 5-4 in overtime for a 2-1 series lead.

Penalty Panic:

A Braden Schneider turnover led to a Panthers rush chance and a delay of game penalty after he accidentally lifted the puck over the glass. It put the Rangers on the penalty kill early. Then, Sam Reinhart capitalized on a failed clear by K’Andre Miller, scoring his 6th playoff goal to give the Cats a 1-0 lead just 2:50 seconds into the contest. The Rangers struggled, turning pucks over in the neutral zone, leading to more Florida chances. Their forecheck smothered the Rangers, primarily, much like Game 1. 

However, the Blueshirts managed to push back when Alexis Lafrenière broke through the Florida zone and tied the game at 1-1 on a breakaway, thanks to a nice setup from Vincent Trocheck. Game 2 overtime hero Barclay Goodrow then tipped in a Braden Schneider shot for his 5th playoff goal, making it 2-1 visitors. The Rangers were annoying Florida with their forechecks and disrupting their breakouts. Igor made several big saves on an odd-man rush sequence, denying Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Meanwhile, Matt Rempe got called for roughing after seeming to grab Reinhart’s Reinhart’s head as it went into the boards. It put New York on the kill for the third time with 5:53 seconds left. Then, Reinhart struck again, this time with a w a was we backhand shot that deflected off Miller and beat Shesterkin, tying the game at 2. It was the second power-play goal in three tries within 14 minutes. 

The Blueshirts’defensive lapses cost them dearly. Although Igor Shesterkin made a good save on Matthew Tkachuk’s fancy move between the legs, the Rangers weren’t guarding the house well during the frame. Tkachuk manufactured the chance in tight because Trouba and Miller were both in the corner on Verhaeghe, leaving Tkachuk open for a split second behind the net for the opportunity. Selke winner Aleksander Barkov, and Sam Reinhart buzzed around in the final minute and a half, but Shesterkin stood his ground. The Rangers were lucky to be tied after the opening period, considering the six high-danger chances they gave up and the one they generated.

The Panthers lived practically in the Rangers’ zone, constantly threatening in front of Igor, drawing penalties, and then pouncing on them. 

Have a Good Laf:

The Blueshirts kept shooting themselves in the skate, with more indecisive turnovers to begin the second period. Florida’s Gustav Forsling decided to test the woodwork with a shot that rang off the crossbar. The Cats kept dominating zone time, racking up nine shot attempts before you could blink. Even nearly flawlessly, the Panthers killed two penalties, improving to 8 for 8, and they had only let one slip by in their recent 26 penalty kills. As for the Blueshirts’ power play unit, it struggled to make quicker decisions and was playing into Florida’s hands.

Then, Lafreniere swooped in with a golden chance, but Bobrovsky shut him down with a slick save. No worries though, because Lafreniere got another crack and pounced. He pulled a sweet toe drag move past Dmitry Kulikov and buried it with a backhand under Ekman Larson to put the Rangers up 3-2. Unfortunately, the momentum shift didn’t last long. Captain Jacob Trouba got a little too aggressive with an elbow to Evan ‘Rodrigues’ head, sending him to the locker room for a breather. After a review, it was just a two-minute penalty, but Trouba had already been given a slashing penalty, so it was a 5 on 4 power play for the Panthers for the next four minutes.

Yet the Blueshirts scored on the special teams sequence as Goodrow potted his second of the game, a shorthanded snipe from the slot, thanks to a setup from Vincent Trocheck, giving them a 4-2 lead through 40 minutes. 

Comeback Cats, Weary Rags:

Panthers coach Paul Maurice decided to shake things up with the lines, which paid off. Barkov was with Carter Verhaeghe and Reinhart

Sam Bennett with Rodrigues and Matthew Tkachuk. Anton Lundell centering Luostarinen and. Vladimir Tarasenko. 

The Panthers came out swinging, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the Ranger net. They clawed back into the game when Barkov redirected a feed from Verhaeghe to bring them within a goal.

Yet the drama didn’t stop there. One hundred fourteen seconds later, Filip Chytil’s slip-up, leaving his man off a faceoff, left plenty of room for Forsling to tie the game at 4. With his team reeling, a timeout by New York coach Peter Laviolette helped steady the tide. But when it appeared the Rangers caught a break with a penalty on Barkov, the replay showed that it was Mika Zibanejad’s stick that hit him, and no penalty was called. 

Captain Trouba then found himself in hot water again, getting called for holding and giving Florida a power play with just over five minutes left. The Panthers turned up the heat, pinning the Rangers’ penalty killers in their zone for what felt like an eternity. But Igor Shesterkin stood tall, making seven crucial saves in the final minutes to keep the game tied.

As the clock wound down, the Blueshirts found themselves on the ropes, unable to connect on breakout passes and icing the puck five times in the final two minutes. It was like one big penalty kill for New York, even though most of the period was played at even strength.

Yet, with seven saves from Shesterkin, including a stop on Tkachuk in the waning seconds, a Forsling post on a rush, and 42 blocked shots from the Rangers, they somehow managed to survive and force overtime.

As we headed into overtime, the stats told the story: the Panthers had dominated in shot attempts, 95-35 and 41-10 in the third, scoring chances, 26-13, 21-4 in the third, and high-danger chances, 13-4, 7-1 in the third, and New York went the final eight minutes without a shot. It felt like an inevitable bonus-time win for the Cats. 

For Rangers fans, it brought back memories of their heartbreaking loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the 2022 Eastern Conference finals, in which they also squandered two-goal leads. It felt like Deja vu.

New York Time:

After today, the argument could be made we should change overtime to “New York Time” in these playoffs. The Rangers improved to 4-0 in extra time this postseason, courtesy of Alex Wennberg, the trade deadline acquisition who picked the perfect time to score his first as a Blueshirt.

After Shesterkin stoned Rodrigues, a battle for possession on the left dot of an offensive zone faceoff saw New York win it with a Kaapo Kakko stick lift. Jack Roslovic provided extra puck support as the puck went back to Ryan Lindgren, whose shot toward the net was redirected home by Wennberg, giving the Presidents-trophy winners the series lead.

The shot attempts were 108-44 Florida. The Rangers were 0 for their last 42 in franchise history when allowing four goals or more. Yet the demons of this franchise were again exercised by this team of destiny, who are incredibly six wins shy of completing their mission and halfway to the final despite being “betting” underdogs in the last two rounds. However, this series is far from over, and Florida will push harder to even the series in Game 4 on Tuesday. For now, the Blueshirts can enjoy this improbable win and be thankful they’ve wrestled back home ice advantage in this heavyweight bout. 

In this weeks episode Will Wright from Blueseatblogs comes on to discuss the Trouba situation, Prospects, Mika and more.How to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Guest Will Wright
  2. There's more to come……….Right ?
  3. Guest Colin Stephenson
  4. Guest HockeyStatMiner
  5. Many Directions, One Goal

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