Eastern Conference final Game 4: Florida Panthers 3, New York Rangers 2 (OT)

Tuesday isn’t a must-win game for the Florida Panthers in the literal sense.

But in terms of generating momentum, it might as well have been.

And the Panthers responded, beating the New York Rangers 3-2 in overtime in Game 4 to even the best-of-7 Eastern Conference final at 2 games apiece.

Sam Reinhart scored the game-winner 1:12 into overtime on the power play. Sam Bennett and Carter Verhaeghe also scored for Florida.

Once again, overtime

For the third consecutive game, the Panthers and Rangers are heading to overtime.

New York has won the first two of these games that have gone past regulation.

Rangers tie it early in the third

Alexis Lafreniere, who has been dominant all series, tied the game with 16:34 left in regulation by beating Sergei Bobrovsky up close.

2-2 game.

Carter Verhaeghe gives the Panthers the lead

The Panthers took their first lead of the game 12:16 into the second period on a Carter Verhaeghe power-play goal from up close.

It was Verhaeghe’s ninth goal of the playoffs.

Matthew Tkachuk and Aleksander Barkov got the assists.

The second period so far has been all Panthers, who are out-shooting the Rangers 11-3 so far in the frame.

Panthers tie it

Shortly after a Panthers power play ends, the Panthers tied the game 8:45 into the second period, with Sam Bennett jamming the puck past Igor Shesterkin from the side of the net.

Gustav Forsling and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky are credited with the assists.

Panthers with strong push early in second, but Shesterkin holding his own

The Panthers have made a strong push early in the second period, posting 13 shot attempts through the first 6:05 of the frame.

But nothing has gotten past Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin.

New York still leads 1-0.

First intermission thoughts

All things considered, the Panthers are probably fortunate to only be down one goal after the first 20 minutes.

Outside of Florida’s lone power-play opportunity, the Rangers have been the more dominant team so far. New York has a 28-19 edge in shot attempts and 12-7 lead in scoring chances (including 4-1 in high-danger chances).

Rangers open scoring on the power play

Vincent Trocheck opened scoring for the Rangers with a power-play goal from the high slot 8:51 into regulation.

It was the Rangers’ first power play goal of the series after Florida’s penalty kill was a perfect 8 for 8 in the first three games.

Series recap and schedule

Game 1: Sergei Bobrovsky had a 23-save shutout, while Matthew Tkachuk, Carter Verhaeghe and Sam Bennett scored goals in Florida’s 3-0 win.

Game 2: Barclay Goodrow scored the game-winner with 5:59 left in overtime to lift the New York Rangers to a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers in Game 2 of the series on Friday at Madison Square Garden. New York’s Vincent Trocheck and Florida’s Carter Verhaeghe each scored in the first period. That was all that would get past either Sergei Bobrovsky or Igor Shesterkin in regulation.

Game 3: Alex Wennberg scored the game-winning goal 5:35 into overtime to seal the Rangers’ 5-4 win in Game 3 on Sunday at Amerant Bank Arena to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

That came after Florida scored twice in the third period to tie the game.

Alexis Lafreniere and Barclay Goodrow each scored twice in regulation for the Rangers. Sam Reinhart had a pair of first-period power-play goals for Florida, which also got goals in the third from Aleksander Barkov and Gustav Forsling.

Game 4: Tonight

Game 5: Thursday, May 30, New York’s Madison Square Garden, 8 p.m., ESPN, ESPN+

Game 6 (if necessary): Saturday, June 1, Sunrise’s Amerant Bank Arena, 8 p.m., ABC, ESPN+

Game 7 (if necessary): Monday, June 3, New York’s Madison Square Garden, 8 p.m., ESPN, ESPN+

Pregame reading

Need to catch up ahead of Game 4? Here are the highlights of the Miami Herald’s coverage over the past two days.

The Panthers showed ‘more urgency’ in third period of Game 3 OT loss to Rangers. They need to build on it

Defense is his focal point, but Gustav Forsling is providing timely offense in the postseason for Panthers

Are lineup changes coming in Game 4? It appears that way.

The Panthers are creating more than their share of chances, but they know they need to “get more pucks on net” against Igor Shesterkin.

Does focusing on Aleksander Barkov’s elite two-way play undersell the Panthers captain’s offense?