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Panthers 3, Rangers 1

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- The Florida Panthers have struggled through a season full of losses and injuries, but were still able to add to the New York Rangers' frustrations with a 3-1 win Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

Brian Campbell and Scottie Upshall scored and Tommas Kopecky added an empty-netter late for the Panthers, who managed to win back-to-back games for just the second time this season.

Jacob Markstrom had 44 saves for Florida (9-16-6), which emerged with the victory despite the Rangers dominating on shots with 45 to the Panthers' 24.

Marian Gaborik scored his ninth goal of the season for the Rangers (15-13-2), who had won two in a row, but again couldn't keep sustained momentum during an up-and-down season. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist had 21 saves.

Trailing for most of the game, the Rangers finally got on the board with just 3:48 left, when Gaborik skated between two defenders and flipped in a backhand shot to Markstrom's left. Rick Nash and Michael Del Zotto received assists on the play for the Rangers, who were unable to slip another one past Markstrom.

The Rangers got a two-man advantage as they pulled Lundqvist after going on a power play in the final minute, but Kopecky snagged the puck and put the game away with a long shot at the empty net.

The Panthers, who have been patching their lineup through multiple injuries this season, were without rookie Erick Selleck, who was suspended for two games after his first NHL game Tuesday. Turns out Selleck had more bad news after drawing a two-game suspension for leaving the bench and starting a fight with Carolina Hurricanes forward Kevin Westgarth.

Selleck was sent back home to South Florida to deal with a concussion sustained in the bout, the team announced at the morning skate.

Up 1-0 after the first period, the struggling Panthers showed in the second they wouldn't give the lead back too quickly. Florida made it a 2-0 game early in the second, sparking boos from the crowd at the Garden.

Upshall poked in a rebound from close range, with assists to Jack Skille and Shawn Matthias and the Panthers had doubled their lead at 4:28 of the second.

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead at 8:22 of the first on Campbell's seventh goal of the season, with assists to TJ Brennan and Jonathan Huberdeau.

Notes: Rangers forward Chris Kreider had seven points (six goals, one assist) in eight games for Connecticut, leading to his return to the lineup, on the third line, after being promoted from the AHL affiliate on Wednesday. "He's done quite a bit of work ... down there," Rangers coach John Tortorella said in his pregame news conference. "He hasn't gotten it figured out and we don't expect him to. But they think he's progressing." ... Lundqvist told reporters at the morning skate he felt OK following Tuesday's collision with Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi. Lundqvist suffered headaches and a sore neck. ... Rangers forward Arron Asham, out since Feb. 19 with back issues, participated in the morning skate and said he hoped to return Sunday. ... Panthers forward Alex Kovalev, who had been the only remaining active player from the Rangers' 1994 Stanley Cup championship team, officially retired, according to the Miami Herald. Kovalev, who hadn't appeared in a game in nearly a month after playing in 14 for Florida this year, had 1,029 points in 1,316 career games.

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