Rangers try to cool off Panthers
Tuesday, 11.22.2011 / 6:57 PM
RANGERS (10-4-3) at PANTHERS (11-6-3)
TV : MSG (HD), FS-Florida (HD)
Last 10 : New York 7-2-1; St. Louis 5-2-3.
Season Series : This is the first of four meetings. The teams split their four matchups in 2010-11, with both New York wins coming on shutouts by goalie Henrik Lundqvist -- including a 40-save effort in the final meeting.
Big Story : New York is looking to bounce back after Montreal snapped its seven-game winning streak with a dominating 4-0 win Saturday night at the Bell Centre. Florida has won five of seven, most against quality opposition like Pittsburgh and Toronto. The Panthers are soaring after coming back from a 3-0 first-period deficit Monday night for a 4-3 win against New Jersey.
Team Scope :
Rangers : New York has had four days to mull the discouraging loss in Montreal, a game in which the Rangers mustered only 17 shots. Backup goalie Martin Biron - who lost for the first time in four starts - said after the game that he and the Rangers' top skaters were guilty of "overthinking the play."
More than just the mental aspect, poor special teams play - which was buried under the seven-game win streak - came back to bite the Rangers on Saturday. The Rangers have converted just 12.9 percent (9-of-70) man-advantage situations on the season, and went 0-for-3 against Montreal. And although New York is killing penalties 85.9 percent of the time (10th in League), it conceded goals on two of Montreal's six chances. After practice Monday, coach John Tortorella told MSG Network he wasn't concerned with his team's middling output.
"We had a tough night the other night on our power play, the three power plays we had, along with the rest of our game," Tortorella said. "I don't buy - it's easy to jump on it. … But we're just going to continue working on it and try to find our way. It hasn't scored the way we'd like it to, but there are some good things with it."
Panthers : In case you need confirmation of the rarity of the Panthers' comeback Monday night, Florida entered the game against New Jersey with a 1-292-3 record when trailing by three goals at any point in a game. Afterward, coach Kevin Dineen praised his team's resiliency, as well as its capacity for exciting finishes.
"Over a 20-game span, you learn a little bit about your people and about your team and felt that staying the course was a good play and had nothing to do with coaching, it has to do with the quality of players and people that you have here," Dineen said. "We really came out flat when they scored a couple of goals. We certainly have made some entertaining nights at the Bank Atlantic and tonight will certainly fit right in with that."
Those exciting finishes haven't always equaled wins, though, as Florida is just 4-2-3 at home; New York had won three in a row on the road before the Montreal shutout.
Who's Hot : The Panthers top line: Kris Versteeg (25 points), Stephen Weiss (21) and Tomas Fleischmann (20) are one, two and three on the team's points list and scored all four goals Monday night. Versteeg started the rally with two goals, allowing Weiss to tie it with a fantastic shorthanded effort. Fleischmann completed the rally with two minutes left off assists from - you guessed it - Weiss and Versteeg.
Injury Report : Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky is probable for Wednesday's game with flu-like symptoms. Defenseman Marc Staal (concussion), winger Mike Rupp (left knee surgery) and center Wojtek Wolski (sports hernia) are on injured reserve. … Florida forward Marcel Goc (upper body) will miss Wednesday's game, while goaltender Scott Clemmensen (lower body) is doubtful. Former Ranger Mikael Samuelsson (groin), Scottie Upshall (upper body) and Matt Bradley (upper body) are on injured reserve.
Stat Pack : The Rangers lead the League in fewest goals allowed (36) and are third in goals against average (2.12). They'll try to cool off Florida, which is ranked seventh in goals scored (59) and goals per game (2.95).
Puck Drop : "Trying to get the momentum back on your side - that's the key. A loss is a loss in Montreal, but it's the way we played. That's something we need to cure right away, is play the right way, then you start getting results. You may not win right away - you might struggle a little bit - but you're always concentrating on playing the right way." - Tortorella on his team's streak-snapping loss to the Habs.