The New York Rangers, their playoff spot mostly solidified, will trek through a four game road trip against teams fighting for their playoff lives.
They’ll get their next chance to get hot by playoff time and put a dent in someone else’s hopes in the process tonight, as they complete a Floridian back-to-back tonight against the Florida Panthers (7:30, MSG).
The Rangers (42-22-2) earned a hard-fought victory in Tampa Bay last night, squeaking by the Lightning by 1-0 overtime final. Antti Raanta led the way for the Rangers, making 38 saves for his third shutout of the year, fifth overall for the team. It was Mika Zibanejad who earned the game winning goal, scoring his second overtime goal in nine days, dating back to his winner on February 25 in New Jersey.
Meanwhile Florida (29-24-11) is currently fighting for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, currently five points behind Boston for the last automatic spot in the Atlantic Division, and two points behind the Islanders for the last wild card. They’re currently mired in a 1-4-1 slump, their most recent tilt being a 2-1 loss to Dallas on Saturday. Jonathan Huberdeau had the lone Florida goal.
This will be the first of two March meetings between the Rangers and Panthers, the next coming on March 17 at Madison Square Garden. Florida took the lone matchup between the two teams this season, a 3-2 shootout win. Zibanejad and Chris Kreider had the New York goals, though Zibanejad would later suffer a broken fibula in the same game. Ex-Ranger Keith Yandle had a goal for Florida, while Aaron Ekblad added another. Vincent Trocheck and Aleksander Barkov ended the shootout proceedings early, giving the Panthers the extra point.
Reebok NHL Gear 50% off w/code NHL50! TODAY! ONLY!