Chris Kreider had two power-play goals and an assist and the Rangers beat the NHL-leading Florida Panthers 5-2 Tuesday night.
Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists, Mika Zibanejad had a goal and an assist, and Alexis Lafrenière also scored for the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin stopped 34 shots to help give coach Gerard Gallant his 300th career victory. New York heads into the All-Star break with four wins in its last six overall, and seven of eight at home.
Anthony Duclair and Sam Reinhart scored for Florida, and Aleksander Barkov had two assists. Spencer Knight had 30 saves for the Panthers, who have 69 points and are assured of having the best record in Eastern Conference at the break.
Zibanejad threaded a pass through traffic in front of the net to Kreider on the right edge of the crease and he tapped it in to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead with 5:21 remaining. It was his 33rd goal of the season and 17th on the power play — NHL bests.
The Panthers pulled Knight for an extra skater with 3 1/2 minutes remaining. He was back out for a faceoff in the defensive zone two minutes later after Barkov was called for a tripping penalty, and was pulled again with 55 seconds left. Panarin then sealed it with an empty-netter.
With Florida on a power play early in the second period, Barkov brought the puck up the middle and fired a shot that went off the goalpost. However, Reinhart — who had three goals and an assist in Monday night’s win at Columbus — knocked in the rebound from the right side at 2:18 to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead. It was his 16th of the season.
Lafrenière tied it just 1:09 later as he came around the back of the Panthers’ net and got a pass from Kreider and put it past Knight for his 10th.
With the Rangers on their third power play of the night, Strome found Kreider all alone in front and he beat a diving Knight from the left side with 2:35 left in the second to give the Rangers their second lead of the night.
Florida outshot New York 15-7 in a fast-paced first period.
The Rangers got on the scoreboard 35 seconds into the game when Zibanejad’s cross-ice centering pass for Ryan Reaves was deflected by Panthers defenseman Gustav Forsling past Knight. It was Zibanejad’s 18th.
Owen Tippett appeared to tie it at 9:20 as he beat Shesterkin on the glove side with a shot from the left circle on an odd-man rush. However, the Rangers challenged for offside on the play and the goal was disallowed after a review.
Less than 90 seconds later, Duclair tied it 1-1 as he fired a shot past Shesterkin’s blocker side from the right circle. It was his 19th. Jonathan Huberdeau and Barkov had assists on the play, extending point streaks to four games for both.
Gallant became the 51st coach in NHL history to reach the 300-win club. He is the 11th active coach to do so, joining the Islanders’ Barry Trotz, New Jersey’s Lindy Ruff, Washington’s Peter Laviolette, Calgary’s Darryl Sutter, Vancouver’s Bruce Boudreau, Los Angeles’ Todd McLellan, Vegas’ Peter DeBoer, Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper, Edmonton’s Dave Tippett and Pittsburgh’s Mike Sullivan. Gallant had 56 wins with Columbus, 96 with Florida, 118 with Vegas and now 30 with the Rangers.
The Rangers moved to 19-3-2 when scoring first. The Panthers fell to 11-6-3 when giving up the first goal. … New York is 16-1-3 when leading after two periods. Florida fell to 6-9-1 when trailing after 40 minutes. … The Rangers were 3 for 5 on the power play to improve to 11 for 29 over their last nine games.
HONORING BLACK HISTORY
In honor of Black History Night, the Rangers hosted youth groups, including players from T.E.A.M. Hockey and Ice Hockey In Harlem, in a pregame discussion with panelists led by former players Anson Carter and Tony McKegney. Rangers players also wore Black History Night-themed jerseys during warmups that were to be auctioned off after the game to benefit the United Negro College Fund and the Garden of Dreams Foundation. The auction will take place through Feb. 8.