Rangers vs. Panthers: Breaking down 2023-24 season series ahead of playoff matchup

NHL: New York Rangers at Florida Panthers
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

After the advancing through the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, next up for the New York Rangers is a best-of-7 contest against the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Final. The series pits the Metropolitan Division and Presidents’ Trophy winner, New York, against the Atlantic Division winner and 2023 Stanley Cup Final runner-up, Florida.

The Rangers lost the regular-season series with a 1-2-0 record against the Panthers. Each game was close, with the winning margin one goal twice and two goals once.

New York was outscored 11-8 in the three contests (nine if you count their shootout winner from the final meeting). Artemi Panarin led the Rangers with three goals over the course of the three games. Will Cuylle had two, and Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Adam Fox each had one.

Florida has scoring contributions throughout the lineup against New York. Sam Reinhart topped the Panthers with four goals, Carter Verhaeghe followed up with two, and Matthew Tkachuck, Evan Rodrigues, Ryan Lomberg, Anton Lundell, and Eetu Luostarinen each scored one.

In goal, Jonathan Quick played the first game for the Rangers, a 4-3 loss, making 29 saves on 33 shots for an .879 save percentage and 4.00 goals against average. Igor Shesterkin played the second and third games, posting a 1-1-0 record and making 53 saves on 59 shots for a save percentage of .898. In this playoff run, Shesterkin is 8-2 with a .923 save percentage and a 2.40 GAA.

Sergei Bobrovsky played all three games against the Rangers this season. In those contests, he earned a 2-0-1 record with 91 saves on 99 shots, good for a .919 save percentage and 2.66 GAA. In the postseason, Bobrovsky has an 8-3-0 record with a save percentage of .902 and a GAA of 2.37.

New York was 3-for-9 on the power play in the season series and Florida was 2-for-8. In the playoffs, the Rangers have a 31.4 percent success rate on the man advantage, and Florida has a 22.0 percent success rate.

Related: Rangers playoff series vs. Panthers features 2 elite coaches

Let’s break down the three regular-season games played between the Rangers and Panthers this season.

December 29, 2023 – Panthers 4 – Rangers 3

NHL: New York Rangers at Florida Panthers
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

In the first meeting between these two teams, the Panthers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in Sunrise, Florida. They extended that lead to two, before New York began to battle back with two goals of their own from Panarin and Cuylle. The Panthers ended the second period with a 3-2 lead, courtesy of a Reinhart tally.

New York fought back once again, tying the game at three with a goal from Zibanejad. Florida, however, got the last lick, when Verhaeghe scored the go-ahead goal to give the Panthers a 4-3 victory. It was a very back and forth game with momentum shifts for each team throughout.

March 4, 2024 – Panthers 4 – Rangers 2

In the second meeting, played at Madison Square Garden, it was New York which got off to the early lead, thanks to a power-play goal from Cuylle. Florida was able to turn the tide in the second, when Reinhart notched two goals, the first coming on the power play. Kreider evened the score at two with another power-play goal before the end of the period.

In the third, it was all Panthers. First, Lomberg gave Florida a 3-2 lead, and the Rangers could not seem to generate much after that. It was another instance in which New York failed to score at even strength for the entirety of the game. Lundell sealed the deal with an empty-net goal, giving the Panthers their second win of the season series.

March 23, 2024 – Rangers 4 – Panthers 3 (SHO)

In the third and final meeting of the season at MSG, the Rangers had to come from behind once again. Tkachuck got things started for the Panthers, giving his team a 1-0 lead after the first. Luostarinen doubled their lead in the second, which served as a wake-up call for the Rangers. A power-play goal from Fox and another tally from Panarin had the game tied at two after the second.

Verhaeghe gave Florida the lead again in the third period, but Panarin scored his second of the game to tie it up and send the contest to overtime. After a scoreless five minutes of 3-on-3, the game went to a shootout. Panarin, while not credited with a hat trick, scored the eventual shootout winner for New York, giving the Rangers their only win of the season against the Panthers, who took five of six points in the season series.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh

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