Tight Panthers required less coaching to tie NHL Eastern finals with Rangers, coach says

Coach Paul Maurice and the Florida Panthers will face the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday in New York. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
Coach Paul Maurice and the Florida Panthers will face the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday in New York. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

May 29 (UPI) -- Paul Maurice's Florida Panthers were tight early on and required less coaching to secure their Game 4 overtime win over the New York Rangers, tying the Eastern Conference finals 2-2, the coach told reporters.

Panthers forward Sam Reinhart's power-play one-timer gave the Panthers the 3-2 Game 4 triumph Tuesday at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Fla. The Panthers were outshot 13-11 over the first 20 minutes, but held a 29-10 advantage in attempts for the remainder of the night.


"I thought we were tight," Maurice said. "That's the best way I can describe it. Both teams want it so bad and invested so much hard work to get there. I just thought we were tight. After the first, we just played. It wasn't more coaching, it would be less. I don't have a better explanation for it.


"I don't think I wind them up hard before a game. You never know what your impact is, my conversation was, after the first, we were tight. We don't play that way."

Sam Bennett and Carter Verhaeghe also scored for the Panthers, who outshot their foes 40-23. Fellow forward Aleksander Barkov logged two assists. Alexis Lafreniere and Vincent Trocheck scored for the Rangers. Goalie Igor Shesterkin made 37 saves in the loss. Panthers net minder Sergei Bobrovsky totaled 21 saves.

"The second and third period got us to an emotional level where we're just playing as fast as you can," Maurice said. "That's what you saw, just a bunch of elite guys with phenomenal hands."

Game 5 of the best-of-seven game series will be Thursday in New York. Game 6 will be Saturday in Sunrise. Game 7, if necessary, will be Monday in New York. Including Tuesday's result, the last three games of the series were decided in overtime.

"You see the top-end talent they have on their team," Reinhart said. "They are going to take advantage of their opportunities when they get them. You can't lose focus for a moment.


"You've seen it time and time again. No shock. It's a close series. A couple bounces here and there can give the team a couple wins."

Forward Artemi Panarin and defenseman Adam Fox assisted Trocheck for first blood off a power play 8:51 into the first period. The Rangers carried that 1-0 lead into the second. Bobrovsky and defenseman Gustav Forsling then assisted Bennett 8:45 later to tie the score.

Verhaeghe gave the Panthers their first lead when he beat Shesterkin off a power play less than four minutes later. The Panthers carried that lead into the third period.

Fox and Panarin then assisted a Lafreniere wrist shot 3:28 later. That served as the lone goal of the third period, resulting in overtime.

Reinhart's game-winner came just 72 seconds into the bonus period. The sequence started with a face-off inside the right circle, deep in Rangers territory. The puck then slid out to defenseman Brandon Montour, who skated on the blue line and passed off to Barkov.

Barkov sent a pass to Reinhart, who quickly gave the puck back. Barkov sent another feed over to Montour, who passed ahead to Matthew Tkachuk. The Panthers forward returned a pass to Montour, who found Barkov near the right post. Barkov sent the final pass ahead to Reinhart, who smashed in a shot past Shesterkin's glove and into the upper-right corner of the net.


The Panthers will battle the Rangers in Game 5 at 8 p.m. EDT Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

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