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Panthers-Rangers Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

Associated Press

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Panthers-Rangers Preview
Florida Panthers vs. New York Rangers

No more HBO cameras or nationally televised outdoor games for the New York Rangers. It's simply back to business as usual for the Eastern Conference's top team.

After a thrilling victory in the Winter Classic, New York seeks its third straight win over the visiting Florida Panthers when the teams meet Thursday night.

The Rangers (24-9-4) haven't let the recent spotlight slow them down, winning seven of their last eight games including a 3-2 victory over Philadelphia on Monday in the NHL's annual outdoor spectacle.

Coach John Tortorella, however, has lighter pockets after being fined $30,000 after criticizing the officials for questionable calls in the third period.

His comments may appear on the finale of HBO's "24/7" series this week, along with Mike Rupp's two goals and Brad Richards' third-period game-winner as the Rangers rallied from a two-goal deficit.

Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves, the most important coming on a penalty shot by Danny Briere with less than 20 seconds remaining.

"Obviously it's going to be a little different going back now to a normal season after all the hype with HBO and the Winter Classic," Lundqvist said. "It was a different weekend, and it's important for us to just stay focused. We've got two big games coming up for us (against Florida and Pittsburgh on Friday), and we've just got to keep this going."

Lundqvist was also solid in New York's tuneup for the Winter Classic, making 27 saves in a 4-1 road win over the Panthers on Friday.

Richards had a goal and an assist in that contest and also scored in a 6-1 home victory over Florida on Dec. 11, when Derek Stepan scored twice and Marian Gaborik had a goal and an assist.

The Southeast Division-leading Panthers (20-12-7) won the first meeting in the season series 2-1 at home Nov. 23, and they're coming off a 3-2 victory over Montreal on Saturday.

Tomas Fleischmann, who had two assists in the November win over New York, scored twice Saturday, though the victory was marred by allegedly racial comments made on the ice by Krys Barch toward Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.

Barch, who hasn't spoken publicly about the alleged incident, was ejected. Teammates have spoken up for him, and maintain the process hasn't been a distraction.

"You know what, he's been around," Panthers forward Stephen Weiss said. "Certainly we've chatted a bit. I'll keep that stuff private. But he's a veteran guy. He knows how to handle that type of stuff. No one's feeling worse than him. He feels terrible about the misunderstanding, but he'll get through it and we'll help him get through it as a team."

Florida hopes to get a better control of what's happening on the ice after dropping seven of its last 11 games (4-4-3).

Scott Clemmensen was pulled from the loss to the Rangers last week after allowing three goals on 11 shots, but made 18 saves Saturday in place of Jose Theodore, who left early with a lower-body injury that will keep him out indefinitely.

Clemmensen has lost his last three starts against the Rangers while posting a 4.12 goals-against average.

Lundqvist - 5-0-0 with a 1.20 GAA since Dec. 20 - is 7-2-0 with a 1.22 GAA in his last nine starts versus Florida.

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Jan 05 '12 FLA 2 at NYR 3 - OT M. Gaborik
Dec 30 '11 NYR 4 at FLA 1 B. Richards
Dec 11 '11 FLA 1 at NYR 6 A. Anisimov
Nov 23 '11 NYR 1 at FLA 2 K. Versteeg
K. Versteeg39172138+142454
T. Fleischmann40151934+92052
S. Weiss38112233+163043
B. Campbell4032932+4410
D. Kulikov3931720-52421
J. Garrison4011718+71472
S. Matthias397815+02111
T. Kopecky3951015-142211
M. Weaver40099-3800
E. Jovanovski39268-61410
M. Samuelsson13178+2810
S. Bergenheim26707-32210
M. Santorelli32527-91610
J. Skille31246-82201
M. Bradley28246-12600
E. Gudbranson31224-83600
M. Goc18303+1200
M. Sturm33213-122501
E. Dadonov15213-4200
S. Upshall15123-22301
T. Kennedy27112-11401
M. Repik11112-2210
K. Ellerby15022-4200
B. Thomas7101+0000
M. Cullen6011+2200
D. Booth6011-6200
K. Barch22000-47300
R. Carter7000-1600
B. Kearns5000+01000
G. Rallo1000+0000
J. Theodore2914-8-4668052.43.918
S. Clemmensen104-1-3242343.01.897
J. Markstrom62-3-1141952.59.928
M. Gaborik38231134+91655
R. Callahan38141630+44973
B. Richards38141630-21236
D. Stepan3881826+121022
M. Del Zotto3851823+252201
A. Anisimov3771522+92821
B. Dubinsky3841519+96200
R. McDonagh3841216+62401
D. Girardi3831114+4811
R. Fedotenko385712-11010
C. Hagelin207411+10601
B. Prust38279+07100
B. Boyle38268+63601
J. Mitchell20268+9200
J. Woywitka26156+2800
A. Stralman15156+11200
E. Christensen20145+0210
S. Eminger30224+21800
S. Bickel8044+41800
M. Rupp16303+33801
S. Avery15303+22101
M. Sauer19123+92100
W. Wolski6022+0200
A. Deveaux9011+32900
T. Erixon13000+0800
K. Newbury6000+22400
M. Zuccarello3000+0200
M. Staal2000+1000
B. Bell1000-1000
H. Lundqvist2817-7-4548591.92.937
M. Biron118-2-0212682.06.922