New York Rangers rev up attack in 5-2 win over Florida Panthers

By Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange  |  March 8, 2017 at 5:59 AM
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March 8 (UPI) -- SUNRISE, Fla. -- Henrik Lundqvist tied a season-high with 43 saves and set a career milestone, but the "Broadway Hat," awarded by New York Rangers players to their star of the game, went to a guy who played just his second NHL game of the season.

That would be 33-year-old enforcer Tanner Glass, who scored his first goal of the season and just the 24th of his career.

Glass also added an assist as the Rangers, who had scored just seven goals in their past five games, broke out of their slump in a 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night at the BB&T Center.

"Most important is the example he sets, going to the net and setting screens," Rangers defenseman and team captain Ryan McDonagh said of Glass, who had spent the entire season in the AHL before getting the call on Monday.

"We've been missing (those screens) at times this year. We haven't been doing it enough."

New York (43-22-2) has the best road record in the NHL this season at 24-8-0.

Florida (29-25-1) is 1-5-1 in its past seven games. In addition, Florida has won just once in its past six home games, and the Panthers haven't scored more than three goals since Feb. 17.

In addition to Glass, Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, Nick Holden and Pavel Buchnevich (empty-netter) scored for New York. It was the first time New York scored five goals since a 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 19.

Lundqvist earned his 30th win of the season. He has reached that milestone four straight years and 11 times in his 12-year NHL career. No NHL goalie had ever won 30 in 11 of 12 seasons until Lundqvist.

"I'm very proud," Lundqvist said of the milestone. "I've worked very hard. Sometimes it doesn't go your way. But you just have to stick with it and believe in yourself and your team."

Florida backup goalie James Reimer, playing due to the lower-body injury to starter Roberto Luongo, was lifted in the second period after allowing four goals on 19 shots.

Reto Berra, who had not played in the NHL since Dec. 9, 2015, played the rest of the way. He made eight saves and did not allow a goal.

New York opened the scoring on Kreider's 25th goal of the season with 9:25 expired in the first period. Former Panthers defenseman Steven Kampfer put a shot on goal, and Kreider's deflection beat Reimer glove-side.

The Rangers made it 2-0 less than four minutes later. Oscar Lindberg's swift skating behind Florida's net set up the play. J.T. Miller got the primary assist as he shot from the left circle before Glass cleaned up the rebound.

"It's been a tough year for me to say the least," Glass said of his time in the minors. "But as tough as its' been down there, it's been just as good or better coming up. The guys have been amazing. The support they've given me has been huge."

With 4:06 expired in the second period, New York took a 3-0 lead on Hayes' 16th goal. Brady Skjei's stretch pass liberated Hayes, who took off on a breakaway, scoring with his backhand.

"When it's 3-0 against the Rangers," Florida center Aleksander Barkov said, "it's hard to come back."

Florida made an effort, however.

The Panthers got on the board with 8:40 expired in the second on Thomas Vanek's 16th goal of the season and his first since he was acquired at last week's trade deadline. The goal was set up by Reilly Smith, who hit Glass along the left boards, forcing a turnover. Smith got the hit and the assist.

Vanek's goal ended a streak of nine-plus periods in which Florida had not scored at even strength.

But New York came back less than two minutes later, getting the 10th goal of the season by Holden, who had ample time and space to wind up shoot high to Reimer's stick side.

The Panthers challenged the goal, claiming goalie interference, but they were denied as Reimer had come up outside the crease. After the goal stood, Panthers coach Tom Rowe replaced Reimer with Berra.

Florida closed its deficit to 4-2 with 3:26 left on a power-play goal by Aaron Ekblad. Vincent Trocheck earned his second assist of the game, and Ekblad walked in on Lundqvist, beating him stick-side.

But Buchnevich's eighth goal of the season, with 1:45 left in the game, ended Florida's chances.

"Our defensive mistakes were glaring," Rowe said, "and they capitalized."

NOTES:

-- Rangers RW Michael Grabner (hip) missed his fourth straight game. He leads New York with 26 goals.

-- The Rangers were also without RW Jesper Fast (shoulder), D Dan Girardi (ankle) and D Kevin Klein (back).

-- Healthy scratches for New York were D Adam Clendening and LW Matt Puempel.

-- Trying to snap a slump, Panthers interim coach Tom Rowe switched C Vincent Trocheck on a line with Jonathan Marchessault and Thomas Vanek. C Nick Bjugstad took over a line with Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen.

-- Florida's healthy scratches: D Jakub Kindl, C Denis Malgin and LW Shawn Thornton.

-- Ex-Panthers captain Olli Jokinen officially retired as a member of Florida's organization. He played for the Panthers from 2000 to 2008 and is the franchise's leader in goals (188) and points (419).

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