Say what you will, but it took the Rangers into late November to lose consecutive games. The 3-2 loss in a shootout to the Florida Panthers on Sunday night is made easier to bear due to the fact the Rangers earned a point from the debacle, but an even greater loss was sustained in the overtime period, as Mika Zibanejad suffered a broken fibula that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.
Charging full speed for a puck behind the Rangers’ net during the 3-on-3 session, Zibanejad slid, crushing his left leg into the wall. Play was instantly halted as Zibanejad laid down in pain before being helped off the ice.
Bad luck was the theme of the game for the Rangers (13-5-1), who blew two separate leads. Chris Kreider was able to give the Rangers the first period lead with his fourth goal of the season, but none other than Keith Yandle, part of a couple of ex-Rangers taking the ice for Florida (the other being Jaromir Jagr) was able to tie things up with his first goal of the year, coming on the power play with Brady Skjei in the sin bin for concealing the puck.
The Rangers retook the lead thanks to none other than Zibanejad, who put on in off a solid backhanded pass from Mats Zuccarello to make it a 2-1 Rangers lead. However, bad luck struck two more fatal blows, as a potential third Rangers goal was waived off after Dan Girardi was ruled offsides, even though replays showed that the puck did not fully leave the zone. Energized by the controversy, Florida retied the game when Aaron Ekblad’s shot hit JT Miller, whose unintentional deflection went past Henrik Lundqvist.
After the 300 seconds of overtime yielded nothing, James Reimer sent Zuccarello and
former Panther Brandon Pirri empty handed. On the Florida side, they wrapped things up early as Vincent Trocheck fired one under Lundqvist in the first round, before savvy moves by Aleksander Barkov yielded a tricky shot that trickled past the goal line to cap off the victory for the defending Atlantic Division champion Panthers (10-8-1).
The two teams will wrap their season series up with a pair in March.
The Rangers will wrap up their pre-Thanksgiving slate with a home-and-home with the Pittsburgh Penguins, starting on Monday (7:00, MSG).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490