Rangers win again in overtime, stun Panthers 5-4 in Game 3

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Florida Panthers
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Despite blowing a two-goal lead in the third period, the New York Rangers managed to defeat the Florida Panthers again in overtime, winning Game 3 on the road Sunday 5-4 on Alex Wennberg’s first postseason goal.

After a face-off win in the Florida’s end, Wennberg went to the net and deflected Ryan Lindgren’s point shot past Sergei Bobrovsky for the winner at 5:35 of overtime.

“It’s this burst of energy. This burst of all kinds of joy,” Wennberg said postgame.

New York has won two straight games in overtime, also defeating Florida 2-1 on Barclay Goodrow’s winner in Game 2 at Madison Square Garden on Friday. They lead this best-of-7 series 2-1.

The Rangers are 4-0 in overtime in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Panthers are 1-2.

Igor Shesterkin allowed four goals but turned in a massively clutch performance with the Panthers dominating large swaths of the game. Shesterkin finished with 34 saves, six in overtime.

The Panthers out-attempted the Rangers by a whopping 108-44 margin. But Shesterkin was the difference in this one.

His counterpart, Bobrovsky surrendered five goals on 23 shots.

Goodrow and ALexis Lafreniere each scored two goals for the Rangers, who held leads of 2-1 and 4-2 in the game. Vincent Trocheck, Jacob Trouba and Lindgren each had two assists.

Sam Reinhart scored two power-play goals for the Panthers, who did allow a shorthanded goal to Goodrow late in the second period. Aleksander Barkov and Gustav Forsling scored third-period goals to tie the game and force overtime.

“Back and forth game, highs and lows. I think we kind of took a breather there after the third period and reset our minds heading into overtime and then, obviously, ‘Bergie” with that huge tip to win it,” Goodrow explained.

Related: Kaapo Kakko returns, takes injured Jimmy Vesey’s place for Rangers in Game 3

New York Rangers 5 – Florida Panthers 4 (OT)

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Florida Panthers
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Lafreniere and Goodrow each scored in the first and second periods to power the Rangers to a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes of play. And in each period, they struck in rapid-fire succession to stun the Panthers.

Reinhart opened the scoring 2:50 into the game, when he came out of the corner on the power play and slipped a backhand shot past Shesterkin. But Lafreniere and Goodrow scored goals 25 seconds apart to give New York their first lead less than five minutes later.

Trocheck found Lafreniere steaming through the middle and the 22-year-old scored a pretty backhand goal to tie the game at 7:17. Then Goodrow neatly deflected a Braden Schneider shot over Bobrovsky’s right pad at 7:42 to make it 2-1.

Including Goodrow’s game-winner in overtime Friday, the Rangers at that point had scored three goals on their last five shots against Bobrovsky.

The Panthers goalie did collect himself to make a sharp save against Mika Zibanejad’s one-timer at 10:43. And Shesterkin returned the favor with a sprawling save on Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s break at 13:59.

Reinhart scored his second power-play goal of the period at 14:46 to even things up, 2-2. Following a K’Andre Miller turnover, Reinhart took a Carter Verhaeghe pass and banked the puck inadvertently off Trouba’s skate and into the net. After scoring one power-play in the previous 27 games, Reinhart had two in one period.

The Panthers controlled much of the second period territorially, but the Rangers scored twice late to secure a 4-2 lead.

After being robbed by Bobrovsky on a break 30 seconds prior, Lafreniere scored on a brilliant effort and finish to make it 3-2 at 15:23. Powering from left wing, Lafreniere used a toe drag to get to the middle and scored a gorgeous backhand goal, his sixth of the playoffs.

Momentum appeared to swing back to Florida when Trouba took not just one, but two, minor penalties on the same shift, barely escaping a five-minute major on the second penalty. Trouba was caught on a slash and then during the delayed-penalty portion of play, the Rangers captain lunged at Evan Rodrigues, leading with his elbow. He caught the Panthers forward in the head, but after video review, it was determined to be a minor penalty, not a major.

Rodrigues was down on the ice for an extended stretch and then headed straight to the Panthers locker room. The 30-year-old forward did return for the third period.

So, with Trouba in the penalty box for four minutes and having allowed two power-play goals already in the game, the Rangers responded in a massive way. Trocheck and Goodrow again teamed up, this time to take advantage of Florida being slow back into their zone. Trocheck chased down a loose puck, circled the net and zipped a pass to Goodrow in the left circle. Goodrow then wired a shot top shelf to make it 4-2 at 18:11 of the second period.

New York leads these playoffs with five shorthanded goals.

The Rangers then finished killing off the rest of the penalties after the third period started. They allowed just one shot in those four minutes.

However, the Panthers were not about quit on Game 3. Barkov scored his first goal of the series and sixth of the playoffs at 5:04, charging to the net to deflect a centering pass from Verhaeghe past Shesterkin to make it 4-3. The goal was Florida’s first at even strength since the third period of Game 1.

They wouldn’t have to wait long for their next one. Forsling tied the game at 6:58, zipping a clean shot up and over Shesterkin’s glove for his third playoff goal. The score came after Zibanejad iced the puck and then lost the following face off, leading directly directly to Forsling’s goal.

After the Panthers surged following the tying goal, coach Peter Laviolette used his timeout to settle the Rangers down at 8:30.

More crazy swings followed. Forsling rang a shot off the post with eight minutes remaining in the period. Then it appeared Barkov was going to be penalized four minutes for high-sticking Zibanejad and drawing blood from his mouth at 12:36. But a video review showed that it was ZIbanejad’s own stick that had pushed up into the center’s mouth following contact with Barkov and the teams remained 5-on-5.

Trouba was whistled for a holding penalty at 14:23 and the Panthers power play generated several quality chances, but Shesterkin made two huge saves on Verhaeghe and the Rangers killed off the penalty.

Shesterkin made one more sensational save before the third period ended. Matthew Tkachuk was all alone in front with under 40 seconds left in regulation and his low shot from three feet out was stoned by the Rangers goalie’s blocker.

Overtime began with a bang when the Panthers took off on a 2-on-1 after the opening face-off. Shesterkin was forced to make huge save on Barkov’s right-wing wrist shot and the game remained tied.

That turned out to be another game-saving save by Shesterkin, allowing Wennberg to win it five minutes later.

“The third was probably our toughest go in the series so far,” Laviolette said. “We were up 4-2, we were under siege, they were able to capitalize and … they got it into overtime, ‘Shesty had to make two or three big saves. … Big goal for us in overtime to win it.”

Game 4 will be played in South Florida on Tuesday, with the Rangers having the chance to put the Panthers on the brink of elimination.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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