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Rangers 5, Panthers 2

The SportsXchange

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The New York Rangers rebounded from an embarrassing loss to defeat the Florida Panthers 5-2 Wednesday night at BB&T Center.

New York, which lost 5-0 at Tampa Bay on Monday, was much sharper against the Panthers, building a 3-0 lead.

But the Panthers scored two third-period goals to make it a game, getting tallies from right wing Scottie Upshall with 7:32 left and center Nick Bjugstad with 3:43 remaining. It was Upshall's fifth goal of the season and Bjugstad's third.

However, a hooking penalty against Panthers rookie center Aleksander Barkov with 2:39 remaining stalled Florida's momentum, and Rangers center Mats Zuccarello scored a power-play goal with 1:28 left to put Florida away.

Rangers left wing Carl Hagelin added an empty-net goal with 23.1 seconds left for the final tally.

Henrik Lundqvist (8-10), who allowed four goals Monday against Tampa and was pulled after two periods, was especially good against Barkov on Wednesday. He robbed him twice, once right in front with 17:05 left.

The loss went to Panthers goalie Tim Thomas (6-8), who started his 10th straight game.

New York leads the Eastern Conference with nine road wins this season. New York is also 12-1-0 when scoring first.

With 5:49 elapsed in the first period, the Panthers got the game's first power-play chance as Rangers defenseman Justin Falk was sent off for high-sticking. But the Panthers could not get a shot during the two-minute penalty.

In sharp contrast, the Rangers scored just 25 seconds into their first power-play opportunity, with 12:13 elapsed in the first period.

Two slick passes opened up Zuccarello for a slap shot from above the right circle. Rangers center Derick Brassard deflected the puck past Thomas for his fifth goal of the season, giving New York a 1-0 lead.

The Rangers' power play had been just 3-for-26 in the past seven games.

With 1:07 left in the second period, Rangers center Brad Richards scored unassisted to give New York a 2-0 lead. His seventh goal of the season went through the legs of three Panthers, including Thomas.

Earlier in the second period, Hagelin was penalized two minutes for slashing, but Florida again failed to get a shot during its power play.

Two minutes later, Lundqvist again stoned Barkov, who had gotten behind the Rangers' defense.

The Rangers made it 3-0 when Rick Nash picked up a loose puck with 14:28 left in the third period and scored unassisted, beating Thomas stick-side. It was Nash's second goal of the season in just his fifth game back from a concussion that cost him nearly six weeks.

NOTES: Rangers D Michael Del Zotto was a healthy scratch. Del Zotto, 23, a former first-round pick, is reportedly on the trading block after leading the Rangers' defensemen in scoring last season under previous coach John Tortorella. ... Panthers C Jesse Winchester, who suffered a lower-body injury Monday, was scratched. ... Panthers D Mike Mottau was a healthy scratch. ... Still out for the Panthers are D Ed Jovanovski (hip), D Matt Gilroy (lower body) and LW Tomas Kopecky (hand). Kopecky hopes to play Saturday, when he is eligible to come off injured reserve. ... The Rangers activated Taylor Pyatt, who had suffered a concussion Nov. 7, and sent rookie LW J.T. Miller, a former first-round pick, to the AHL. ... Rangers RW Derek Dorsett (sprained wrist) was scratched. ... Rookie G Cam Talbot is expected to start the Rangers' next game, Friday at Boston. ... Up next for the Panthers is a home game Saturday against Pittsburgh.
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