Cats Cough Up Rangers In the Shootout

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Here is our recap of the Rangers 4-3 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers.

Mats Zuccarello – After trading away team captain Ryan McDonagh, as well as alternate Rick Nash, at the deadline, Mats Zuccarello has been “forced” to step up his role as a leader with the Rangers. And Zuccarello stepped up and got the Rangers on the scoreboard in the second, sparking the team’s ultimate comeback in the third. Zuccarello deflected Neal Pionk’s point shot down and past Roberto Luongo for his 11th goal of the season.

The diminutive Norwegian wasn’t done putting pucks in the net, as he scored the only goal for the Rangers in the 1v1 battle with the Panthers netminder. Zuccarello put the puck in the net with a gorgeous deke, sending Luongo’s jockstrap into the rafters of the BB&T Center.

Jeff Gorton decided to keep Zuccarello around after the deadline and you would have to expect that Zuccarello is here for a reason. If he can start picking up goals over the final stretch of the season, it’ll go a long way with team management.

Mika Zibanejad – With the Rangers trailing heading into the third, a quick goal was what they needed. And it was Mika Zibanejad who knotted the game at two, a mere 17 seconds into the final frame. Zibanejad took Jesper Fast’s drop pass, went to his backhand, and stuck the puck just inside the near post for a beautiful goal.

The goal was the 20th of the campaign for the Swedish center, and he will be an integral part of this team as it continues to rebuild.

Kevin Hayes – The Panthers regained their lead less than a minute after the Zibanejad goal, but the Blueshirts wouldn’t go home without a fight. Rangers center Kevin Hayes took John Gilmour’s pass and lasered a wrist shot off the post and into the net behind Luongo for his 20th goal of the season. If Hayes can start shooting the puck more and more, his value will only go up as one of the team’s core players going forward.

Henrik Lundqvist – The Rangers netminder was solid in this one, making 32 stops on the 35 Florida shots. Lundqvist kept his team in the game a few times, including this breakaway save with the Rangers shorthanded.

Lundqvist has said time and time again that he wants to remain with the Rangers for the entirety of his career. And with the team entering a transition stage this offseason, Lundqvist will be one of the few guaranteed players heading into next year.

Next Game: The Blueshirts will look to pick up the full two points on Monday when they face the Carolina Hurricanes at The Garden. Puck drops at 7!


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