New York Rangers start New Year off right, beat Panthers 5-3

new york rangers mika zibanejad
Jan 1, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) celebrates his second goal of the game against the Florida Panthers with teammate Kaapo Kakko (24) during the second period at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers closed out a solid two-game road trip with three out of four points by beating the Florida Panthers 5-3 on Sunday.

It was also a nice way to get the New Year off on the right skate, if you will.

“Play good strong defense and you’re going to get opportunities,” Gerard Gallant said via the MSG postgame. “We took advantage of those opportunities. It was good to get five goals against a good team.

New York Rangers beat Panthers

new york rangers
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers came out with purpose and were eventually rewarded when Mika Zibanejad scored after splitting the Panthers defense 14:36 into the first period. It came as soon as a 4-on-4 ended to give the team a much needed power play goal.

“I didn’t know it was a power play goal,” Zibanejad said. “Thank God we got that one and another one. We trust each other that we can be a good power play and we are a good power play.”

Florida did push back in the second period after being dominated by a 16-8 shot margin. However, it was Zibanejad again that increased the Blueshirts lead. On the play, Braden Schneider made a huge defensive play and then got involved up ice. Kaapo Kakko would get the primary assist by feeding his center for a one-timer.

Nick Cousins scored quickly after by beating a screened Jaroslav Halak, only to see Chris Kreider restore the two-goal lead 1:47 later converting a nice Kakko feed.

Sam Bennett tallied on the power play late to make it a 3-2 game heading into the final 20 minutes of the game.

New York would get an early power play opportunity in the third that led to the eventual game-winner. Vincent Trocheck made a huge defensive play on a shorthanded chance and then skated the other way to convert a feed from Kreider.

“It’s nice to get in the win column after the break,” Trocheck explained. “I was the last line of defense and I was able to get a stick on it. I had a little bit of a 2-on-1 and I crashed the back post. Kreids made a great pass.”

The Rangers didn’t stay comfortable for long as Eric Staal picked up his fourth of the season just 1:15 later.

Halak then buckled down and thwarted the Panthers best efforts to try and knot the contest en route to a 32 save victory.

Artemi Panarin closed out the scoring when a broken play came back to him in the slot and he immediately sent the puck through his good friend Sergei Bobrovsky.

Notable Rangers

  • Jaroslav Halak stopped 32 of 35 (13 of 14 in the third)
  • Mika Zibanejad has scored the first NYR goal of the New Year in 2022 and 2023
  • NYR PP was 2 for 4
  • Adam Fox and Kaapo Kakko notched two assists each
  • Artemi Panarin recorded two points (1G – 1A)

Next Game: Tuesday, January 3 vs Carolina Hurricanes (7:00 PM ET)

Quotes via NYR Post game on MSG

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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