Another Loss… Panthers Suffer vs Rangers When Desperate For A Win

Panthers Loss Rangers

Sunrise, FL – Coming off a shutout loss Friday Night in Raleigh, the Florida Panthers were looking to start the new year off right against the scuffling New York Rangers. With Sergei Bobrovsky facing off against the Rangers’ veteran backup, Jaroslav Halak, the Panthers found out the hard way why Halak has been in the league for so long. It would turn into a night of frustration and broken plays, which is exactly what the Panthers needed to avoid in a loss to the Rangers. Let’s break it down.

Flat As A Pancake

You could tell it would be a long night from the moment the puck dropped. Sergei Bobrovsky was tested early and often. He turned away four Rangers shots in the first 3:30 of the game. Eric Staal made his presence known by taking a hooking minor at the 3:26 mark. It sent the Cats to the first of what would be multiple costly penalty kills. The Panthers’ penalty kill showed some flashes of solid play. They even registered a short-handed shot on goal while killing off the E. Staal minor. Both teams traded rush chances, with Florida even applying some sustained pressure. But, they couldn’t sneak one past Halak.

The Cats would get a Power Play chance of their own as old pal Vincent Trocheck went to the box for roughing at 12:36. However, it was negated a minute later as Sam Bennett took his daily minor penalty at 13:40. This time for goaltender interference. The teams played some 4v4 hockey until the 14:36 mark when Mika Zibanejad got in behind the Panthers’ defense. He rolled one through Bobrovsky’s 5-hole shortly after Trocheck left the penalty box to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. It would go down as a power play goal, the 17th goal on the season for Mika, with the assists going to Artemi Panarin (33) and Adam Fox (29). That would be the first period’s lone goal. Both teams went to the dressing rooms with New York holding a 16-8 lead in the shots-on-goal category.

Better, But Not Enough

The Cats came out for the second-period flying. They immediately created multiple high-danger chances and sustained heavy pressure in the offensive zone. Halak stood tall, and Florida lost all momentum when Eric Staal committed his second stick infraction of the game, tripping Julien Gauthier in the neutral zone at 3:38. They killed the penalty off. Florida couldn’t convert on their own power play after Sammy Blais went off for elbowing at 7:23. Then, a minute after the PP concluded, it was Mika Zibanejad again for his second goal of the game at 10:30. His 18th goal of the season, assisted by Kaapo Kakko (7) and Braden Schneider (5) put the Rangers up 2-0.

The Panthers were held scoreless on yet another power play opportunity after Artemi Panarin went to the box for cross-checking at 11:23. And then the most dangerous feeling in hockey, hope, washed over the arena as Nick Cousins out-waited Halak and snuck it past his shoulder to put the Cats on the board and bring the game within a goal. Nick’s 4th of the season, assisted by Eric Staal (6) and Josh Mahura (5) at 13:57.

It’s The Hope That Kills You

The game didn’t stay close for much longer as Chris Kreider scored his 17th from the slot to put the Rangers up by two again at 15:44, assisted by Kaapo Kakko (8) and Adam Fox (30). Some back and forth, physical play later, the Cats would go back on the man advantage at 17:25 as Ben Harpur would go to the box for boarding Eric Staal. The hope would return with 58 seconds left in the period thanks to a snapshot goal on the power play by Sam Bennett to bring the Cats within one again. His 8th of the season, assisted by Carter Verhaeghe (13) and Gustav Forsling (19). I’m including my reaction tweet before the highlight because I find myself hysterical.



At the end of the second period, the Cats trailed in goals 3-2 and in shots 23-21.

Old Friends, New Problems

Remember what I said about those costly penalties? Well, Carter Verhaeghe took exactly that 1:16 into the third with a high stick on Jacob Trouba. Vincent Trocheck wasted no time scoring a revenge goal, his 13th, at the 1:38 mark, assisted by Chris Kreider (11), to put the Rangers up by two goals yet again! And just over a minute later, Florida was given hope for the last, agonizing time at 2:53 when… *checks notes* ERIC STAAL(!?!?!) sniped one through the legs of Brandon Montour and off the crossbar to bring the Cats within one again. His 4th of the season, unassisted.

The Panthers continued to pressure for the tying goal until Artemi Panarin said, “enough of this,” and scored his 10th of the season at 10:04, allowing the Rangers to hand the Panthers a loss. It put the Rangers up by two for the final time, assisted by Trocheck (17) and Harpur (2). The Cats tried desperately to bring the game within reach, pulling Bobrovsky with a little over three minutes left. Halak stood tall, and the final horn would sound, sealing the 5-3 victory for the Rangers and dealing the Panthers yet another loss. Florida falls to 16-18-4, which places them in seventh place in the Atlantic Division. Not the place you want to be sitting 38 games into the season. They need to string some wins together and do it soon if they want to sniff the playoffs.

Noah’s Notes And What’s Next

  • This being my first article for Lemon City Live, I should probably introduce myself.
  • I’ll start by explaining what on earth this little section is!
  • Hi! My name is Noah Berger! I’m being brought onto the staff here to help out with Panthers coverage.
  • I primarily work on Marlins coverage as the Associate Manager, Events at
  • Every game recap article I write includes a little section at the end, as you see here.
  • I throw out all grammar rules and share random tidbits and thoughts that I have on pretty much anything.
  • I also frequently use it to push narratives about players like Bryan De La Cruz and Zac Dalpe.
  • And I end it off with what the road ahead looks like for the team in question.
  • The game today was pretty bleak, so instead of trying to find positive tidbits, I did my introduction and will skip to “What’s Next.”
  • Cats vs. Yotes
  • Tuesday 7:00 PM
  • Be there or be square.

Photo/Lynne Sladky

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