The New York Rangers and Florida Panthers are headed in drastically different directions, ones that few experts envisioned they’d be heading at the start of the season.
The surging Panthers will host the reeling Rangers in Sunrise tonight, as the Panthers continue their shocking playoff trek (7:00 PM, MSG).
The Rangers (30-32-6) have seen their own unlikely playoff push go up in smoke this week after following up an undefeated Western Canada road trip with back-to-back losses against Winnipeg and Tampa Bay, the latter coming at Amalie Arena on Thursday night, falling 5-3. The score was closer than the game showcased, as Tampa outshot the Rangers 21-5 in the first and didn’t look back, taking a 3-0 lead early in the second. Ryan Spooner contributed to all three scores for the Rangers, tallying a goal and two assists. He has 10 points in his first six games with the Rangers.
Florida (33-25-7) continues their torrid pace, having gone 7-0-1 in their last eight, positioning them on the cusp of the playoffs. Their most recent win was a 5-0 final on Thursday against Montreal, as Roberto Luongo earned a 40-save shutout. Ex-Ranger Keith Yandle had a helper on three of the five goals in the win.
This will be the third and final meeting between the Rangers and Panthers this season, with the teams splitting their set so far. The Rangers’ win was a 5-4 overtime triumph on November 4, as Kevin Shattenkirk scored two goals, including the game winner the sudden death extra period. Colton Sceviour had two goals for Florida.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490