Rangers outlast Panthers in OT of Game 3, regain home-ice advantage with 5-4 win

Rangers outlast Panthers in OT of Game 3, regain home-ice advantage with 5-4 win

Alex Wennberg scored in overtime and Alexis Lafrenière and Barclay Goodrow scored two regulation goals apiece Sunday as the Rangers beat the Florida Panthers, 5-4, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Sunrise, Fla.

Igor Shesterkin was exceptional — again — and stopped 34 of 38 shots. He was tested multiple times when Florida could have taken the lead in the third period and did not wilt. Overall, Florida outshot the Rangers, 38-23, including 13-4 in the third period and 6-4 in OT.

The Rangers now lead the best-of-seven series, two games to one, and have regained home-ice advantage. The Rangers improved to 5-1 on the road in these playoffs and have won two straight OT games. Game 4 is Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Florida.

If you haven’t seen Lafrenière’s second goal yet, you will soon — it was tremendous highlight fodder, a gorgeous move. Goodrow’s second goal came shorthanded, quickly staunching any momentum that Florida may have hoped to get from a four-minute power play in the second period.

Here are the main takeaways:

– The Rangers entered the third period with a 4-2 lead, but the Panthers roared back. They got within one with 14:56 left when Carter Verhaeghe shot the puck and it deflected in off Aleksander Barkov. Less than two minutes later, Florida scored again on Gustav Forsling’s snap shot past Shesterkin. Forsling also hit the post with about 8:00 left in the third. Shesterkin was fabulous for the rest of the period as the Panthers pushed hard to try to get another goal, including a stop on Matthew Tkachuk in front.

– The first period was wild. After the teams combined for six total goals in the first two games — one of which went to overtime — they poured in two apiece in the opening period. The Panthers took an early 1-0 lead, but the Rangers tallied twice within 25 seconds and then allowed a second power play goal. First, a beautiful passing sequence through the neutral zone that went from Jacob Trouba to Vincent Trocheck to Lafrenière that freed Lafrenière up the middle and he scored on the backhand. It was Lafrenière’s fifth goal in the playoffs but first in five games. Quickly after that, Goodrow tipped in a shot by Braden Schneider that gave him five goals in the playoffs — one more than he had in the entire regular season. Goodrow’s goal meant that the Rangers had equaled their previous scoring output in the series over mere seconds.

– Both Panthers goals in the first were scored by Sam Reinhart, who had 57 regular-season goals and led the NHL with 27 power-play goals. The first one came after a delay-of-game penalty to Schneider, and Reinhart flipped a backhand past Shesterkin. Later, a Matt Rempe roughing penalty created a Panther power play and Reinhard scored on another backhand. The goal went in off Trouba’s skate after a K’Andre Miller turnover let Florida keep the puck in their offensive end. The Panthers were buzzing at the end of the first period and made Shesterkin work hard to keep the score even. Florida outshot the Rangers, 16-8, in the first.

– Lafrenière’s second goal gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead and was one of the prettiest goals of the playoffs. With 4:37 left in the second, he made a sweet toe-drag move between two Panthers that freed him in front and he backhanded the puck past Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. It all started with his spectacular rush down the left side, the kind of thing that Lafrenière probably dreamed of while growing up playing hockey.

– Goodrow, who tallied the OT winner for the Rangers in Game 2, scored for the second time Sunday with 1:46 left in the second period while the Panthers were on the power play. The Panthers were slow to get back when the Rangers cleared the puck and Trocheck corralled the puck and fed Goodrow for a one-timer. Goodrow’s blast zipped past Bobrovsky for a 4-2 Ranger lead.

– That particular Panther PP came when Trouba was whistled for two penalties on one sequence with 2:25 left in the second. He was already entering the box for slashing when he smacked Evan Rodrigues in the face with his elbow. Rodrigues went down, in pain, and then skated to the locker room, though he was back quickly. Officials reviewed the elbowing to see if Trouba deserved a major penalty, but the Ranger captain was given two minutes for the slash and two for elbowing, giving Florida a four-minute power play that lasted into the third.

– With 7:34 left in the third period, it appeared the Rangers were going to get a huge power play when Barkov seemingly hit Mika Zibanejad in the face with his stick. Originally, a double-minor for high-sticking was called, but officials reviewed the play and determined that Zibanejad’s own stick hit him in the face and no penalty was called.

– The Rangers entered the game with an 88.4 percent penalty-kill rate, but allowed two power play goals in six Florida attempts, though they scored a shortie. Meanwhile, the Rangers’ power-play continued to sputter in the series, getting shut out on both attempts Sunday. The Blueshirts are 0-for-8 in the series with a man advantage.

Who's the MVP?

Wennberg, obviously. His tip-in of a Ryan Lindgren shot 5:35 into OT was Wennberg’s first goal of the playoffs and only his second as a Ranger since coming over in a trade-deadline deal.


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