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Panthers Defeat New York Rangers to Tie Series 2-2 – ESPN 98.1 FM

The Florida Panthers defended their home ice, defeating the New York Rangers 3-2 in overtime to tie the Eastern Conference Finals 2-2.

Rangers Special Teams

The story in Game 4 for both Florida and New York was the effectiveness of the special teams.

The Rangers took advantage early as Anton Lundell was sent off for a high stick seven minutes in. Adam Fox sent the puck to Artemi Panarin in the corner, who then centered it for Vincent Trocheck. Trocheck proceeded to rocket it just over the right shoulder of Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. After being known for their dominant special teams throughout the regular season, New York had been unable to convert thus far in this series (0-8 on power play through three games).

The Rangers were almost able to take advantage on special teams for a second time in the first. With just under three and a half minutes remaining, Mika Zibanejad fired a wrist shot that appeared to go in. The puck deflected off Bobrovsky, hit the crossbar and then returned to the ice for a near miss.

Panthers Special Teams

Entering the second down one and staring at a potential 3-1 series deficit, Florida came out with a vengeance. With less than 10 seconds left on the power play, Gustav Forsling got the puck to a racing Sam Bennett who fired it at Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin initially deflected it, however after a couple seconds of chaos Bennett put it in, tying the game. The goal came just seconds after the power play and was facilitated while the Panthers maintained the advantage.

The second score of the period came on special teams, with Carter Verhaeghe putting it in on an excellent pass from Matthew Tkachuk.

Tied at two after an Alexis Lafreniere goal at the beginning of third, overtime began at Amarant Bank Arena, though it didn’t last long. In his first appearance since February 15, Rangers’ Blake Wheeler was called for a hooking penalty against Aleksander Barkov. This gave Florida a power play, which the Cats used to end the game on a surgical play. After a quick give and get with Tkachuk, Brandon Montour sent a pass down to Barkov in the corner. Aleksander quickly sent the puck to a waiting Sam Reinhart in the slot, who finished it off with an electric game sealing shot.

Special Plays

While not on special teams, Alexis Lafreniere’s third period goal was vital for the Rangers (though the game didn’t end in New York’s favor). New York’s regular season MVP Artemi Panarin sent a pass over to Adam Fox. Fox proceeded to put a great spin move on the Florida defense, and gift wrapped a pass to Lafreniere, who was able to convert.

Special Players

The stars were out in Sunrise on both sides. As usual, the goalies for each team were the story of the game, with both putting on phenomenal performances. Igor Shesterkin put on a breathtaking performance in the loss, saving 37 of the 40 Panthers shots. Sergei Bobrovsky continued his playoff success as well, only letting in two goals on 23 New York attempts.

Another player to highlight is New York’s Adam Fox, someone who has struggled recently in the 2024 playoffs. Fox had an uncharacteristic one point through his last seven games. But the Ranger came back strong with his first multi-point performance of this postseason racking up two assists. Also assisting on both goals was the star of the ice in the city that never sleeps, Artemi Panarin. On Florida’s side, Aleksander Barkov also put up a two-point performance, assisting on the Panther’s overtime goal, and one in the second period.

Looking Forward

On May 30, the two teams will travel back to New York for Game 5 in Madison Square Garden. This game proves pivotal, as the winner of the fifth matchup goes on to take 78.8% of series.

Anna Harden

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