The Panthers have been good at coming back from two-goal deficits in the third period of games lately. Wednesday's hole was too deep to climb out of.
Florida scored twice in the third period yet it wasn't enough to overcome Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers as New York escaped Sunrise with a 5-2 win.
The Panthers didn't get their first goal until Scottie Upshall put a backhanded shot past Henrik Lundqvist with 7:32 left.
Then Nick Bjugstad charged in on Lundqvist and scored to make it a 3-2 affair with 3:43 remaining. The Rangers all but ended it when Mats Zuccarello scored with 1:28 left. The Rangers then got an empty net goal with 23.1 on the clock.
The Panthers had won back-to-back home games for the first time this season.
“We have to find ways to score against goaltenders like that,” coach Peter Horachek said. “We need second chances, more traffic. We didn't capitalize when we had to.”
Lundqvist, who has won five of his past eight starts against Florida, made 20 saves within the first 31 minutes of the game as the Panthers brought the pressure but couldn't find the scoreboard until Upshall's goal.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead at the 12:13 mark of the first when Derick Brassard slid into the slot and redirected a long shot from Zuccarello. Tim Thomas made a move at the puck but it skipped through on New York’s fourth shot of the night.
New York got its second period goal when Brad Richards threw up a seeing-eye shot from 35 feet out that skipped through the legs of Tom Gilbert, Brian Campbell and Thomas before hitting the back of the net.
Gilbert then made a costly turnover deep in the Florida zone in the third with Rick Nash picking it off and firing a shot past Thomas for a 3-0 lead. Nash's shot was New York's first of the third period — 5:32 in.
Florida couldn't pull the trigger on numerous opportunities — including twice when Lundqvist was out of position by being out of the net. The Panthers also squandered a great chance early in the third when Aleksander Barkov misfired on a shot with Lundqvist already sprawling.
“He didn't give us much second opportunities,” Upshall said. “Pucks were there but it was hard to get them up over his pads. He's a quick goalie. Nights like this when you don't put them by him, it's a momentum changer.”
Thomas made his 10th consecutive start in goal and wasn't challenged a whole lot. The Rangers, who lost 5-0 in Tampa on Monday and are in the middle of playing nine games in 15 days, played a simplified game and didn't waste much energy on offense.
New York took all of six shots on goal in the first and went almost eight minutes before taking its first of the second. Nash's goal came on New York's 14th shot of the evening.
Ed Jovanovski and Tomas Kopecky spent a good part of their Tuesday night helping serve a group of approximately 250 children from the Boys & Girls Club of Lauderhill.
Panthers president Michael Yormark treated the youngsters to a pre-Thanksgiving dinner and gave them tickets to the boxing matches at the arena.
Jovanovski's biggest responsibility was serving up mashed potatoes although a number of the kids asked for photos and autographs from the Panthers' captain as well.
"I think the kids were all excited to have some pizza, some turkey and all the fixings,'' said Jovanovski, who has been out since having hip surgery last spring. "It was good to see. I know Thanksgiving is right up there as far as holidays go. It's nice to give back.''• Defenseman Mike Mottau and forward Jesse Winchester were scratched Wednesday. Winchester has missed the past three games with a lower body injury.
• Wednesday marked the second of three meetings between the Panthers and Rangers this season. New York returns to Sunrise to finish the series on New Year's Eve.