Rangers-Panthers Preview

TOM CASTRO (STATS Senior Editor)
The Associated Press

A matchup with one of the Florida teams resulted in an ugly loss for the New York Rangers. They'll try to take advantage of the other one as they look to get back on track.

The Rangers continue their five-game road trip Wednesday night when they take on a Florida Panthers club that's in the midst of its best stretch of the season.

New York (12-12-0) won its first two on the road swing and looked to keep rolling Monday against Tampa Bay, which had lost four in a row and was missing leading scorer Steven Stamkos. Those factors, however, turned out to be no hindrance for the Lightning, who rolled to a 5-0 victory.

Tampa Bay's goal total matched the number the Rangers had given up over the previous five games. Henrik Lundqvist was pulled before the third period after allowing four goals on 22 shots, but he was hardly the only culprit.

"We turned the puck over a couple of times in the neutral zone and they made us pay," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We were unable to make them pay, especially in the first period when we had quality chances."

The Rangers had a six-game road winning streak snapped that was one short of matching the team record. New York continued a trend of outshooting opponents in losses, something it's done in its past five defeats.

The Rangers held a 37-25 advantage in that category Monday - 17-10 in the first period. They haven't been outshot in any of their last eight losses, during which they've scored 11 goals.

"For whatever reason, we're just finding ways to get shots and get chances but we just can't put it in the net," center Brad Richards said.

The Rangers will try to capitalize on more of those opportunities against the Panthers (7-13-5), one of the worst defensive teams in the league with 81 goals allowed. However, after giving up four goals in each of its previous two games, Florida defeated Philadelphia 3-1 on Monday.

Tim Thomas made 38 saves and Sean Bergenheim scored two goals for the Panthers, who have gone 3-1-1 in their last five.

"It was a good, good win. ... All in all it feels good that we're headed in the right direction," said Bergenheim, who missed last season due to injury and was playing his 10th game this season.

Florida is seeking its third straight win at home and has gone 3-1-0 in its last four there against the Rangers. New York, though, has taken five of the last seven overall matchups, winning the first one this season 4-3 on Nov. 10 at Madison Square Garden.

New York continues to be ineffective on the power play, going 0 for 6 against the Lightning to leave it at 0 for 9 in the past two games. The Rangers, who had a 5-on-3 in the second period, have converted just 17.1 percent of their chances on the season.

Florida, however, is among the worst teams in the NHL on the penalty kill at 77.0 percent, and it's given up four goals on 11 chances in the last three games.

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