Florida's lineup featured Marcel Goc and Mikael Samuelsson for the first time in several weeks. The Panthers are happy to get some fresh legs back into the lineup, as the battered Florida forward corps has been down by as many as seven skaters in recent days. Scottie Upshall, Sean Bergenheim, Jack Skille and Marco Sturm remain sidelined with various ailments.
Florida got on the board early when Matt Bradley hit a Ranger and stole the puck in the Florida zone, passing up ahead to a streaking Marcel Goc for an odd man rush with Mikael Samuelsson. Goc gave it to Sammy who instantly sent it back for a streaking one timer for the goal with four minutes gone in the first period. It was Goc's third goal of the season.
The Rangers had more chances in the first ten minutes of the period, outshooting the Panthers eight shots to five, but Clemmensen was standing tall in net for the Cats.
With just under three minutes remaining, a stray puck hit Michael Del Zotto in the face, stopping play so a visibly bleeding Del Zotto was escorted to the bench.
With 15 seconds left in the period, the first penalty of the game was called on Mike Weaver for boarding Ruslan Fedotenko. The Panthers killed off the short power play and will start the second down a man.
Florida started out a man down for the first 1:46 of the period, but successfully killed off the penalty.
The teams traded chances for the first five minutes of the period, getting two shots apiece on goal. Shawn Matthias had a chance on a short breakaway but put it right in Biron's chest pad for an easy save.
At the ten minute mark, Dmitry Kulikov took exception when Rangers captain Ryan Callahan got a little too close to goalie Scott Clemmensen, but the scrum never escalated, as all five Panthers came to Kulikov's defense, ready to dance.
At the 11-minute mark, Kris Versteeg skated through several Rangers deep in the Rangers zone, finding Tomas Fleischmann for what could have been an easy goal, but Fleischmann was not quite ready for the pass.
Florida went on their first power play of the night with seven minutes left in the second period when Ruslan Fedotenko boarded Mike Santorelli. Four clears, an offsides call and two missed shots later, the Rangers went back to even strength.
The Rangers opened the period up by assaulting Clemmensen with three shots in the first minutes, at the other end moments later, recent returnee Mikael Samuelsson took the puck right off his head, stopping play.
With four minutes gone in the third, the Panthers bench was called for too many men on the ice, putting the Rangers on their second power play of the game. 30 seconds later, the Rangers pulled on top when Brad Richards one timed it for his 15th goal of the season, with assists by Dan Giriardi and Marion Gaborik.
Just half a minute later, Mike Santorelli pulled the Cats even again with his fifth goal of the season, shooting it over Martin Biron's glove side, top shelf. Mikael Samuelsson was awarded his second assist of the night on the play, with Brian Campbell collecting his 29th of the season.
With 11 minutes left in regulation, the Panthers were again penalized for another too many men on the ice infraction. Clemmensen made one save, and the Panthers cleared the puck three times to successfully kill off the Rangers man advantage.
The rest of the period saw both teams get good scoring chances, but both goaltenders were having good nights for their respective teams. A bonus round is necessary to decide things in Madison Square Garden, as both teams are assured a point in tonights matchup.
The teams traded chances in the four on four extra frame for about three minutes, with both teams looking for the extra point.
With two minutes remaining, the Rangers finished off the Panthers when Marian Gaborik scored his 23rd goal of the season with assists by Michael Del Zotto and Derek Stepan. The Panthers take a point on the road against the NHL leading New York Rangers.
Hits: Rangers, 50-30 (Matt Bradley led the Panthers with five and Dmitry Kulikov added four. Dan Giriardi led all skaters with nine on the night).
Faceoffs: Panthers, 33-29 (Shawn Matthias led the way by winning 11 of 15 faceoffs for the Cats.
Shots on Goal: Rangers, 41-21 (Eric Gudbranson really wanted to score, leading the Panthers with four shots on goal).
Score: Rangers 3, Panthers 2