Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers bounce back with 5-2 win over Florida Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Three nights ago, Henrik Lundqvist was pulled from a Rangers loss after allowing four goals in two periods.
Coach Alain Vigneault made sure to point out he wasn't unhappy with Lundqvist's performance. He just wanted to give the goalie a break in a lost cause. No goaltender controversy here.
But Lundqvist was unhappy with his performance. He talked about needing to get his timing right, about needing to play better. "I wasn't able to come up with the big saves," Lundqvist said.
Wednesday night, Lundqvist was able to come up with enough big saves as the Rangers beat the Florida Panthers, 5-2.
Derick Brassard, Brad Richards, Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello and Carl Hagelin scored for the Rangers (13-12-0), who improved to 3-1-0 on this five-game trip that concludes Friday afternoon in Boston.
Lundqvist was pitching a shutout until the Panthers scored twice in the latter half of the third period. Still, he finished with 31 saves as the Rangers were outshot 33-22.
After the game, Vigneault said Lundqvist will start against the Bruins. The Rangers then host John Tortorella and the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday afternoon, and it's likely that Cam Talbot will start that game.
In his last start, Talbot shut out Nashville in a 17-save effort. But the Rangers know their fortunes this season will not rest on their first-year goalie's shoulders, but on Lundqvist's.
The Rangers bounced back from a 5-0 loss on Monday night to Tampa Bay.
"That's what I expected from him," Vigneault said. "He's a world-class goaltender, strong mentally . . . Tonight, when we did have a breakdown, we had a goaltender who made some saves."
The other part of the story was that the Rangers scored five times, including going 2-for-2 on the power play. It the third time they've scored that many in 25 games.
"Five goals -- the Rangers score five goals," Vigneault said. "We haven't said that very often this year."
The Panthers (7-14-5) came out with more energy and more shots on goal. But unlike on Monday, when the Lightning scored twice in the first 3:10, this time Lundqvist was able to keep the home team off the board early.
"I just tried to play my game tonight and it was important for me and for the team," Lundqvist said. "We bounced back with a solid performance . . . I'm really happy with the way I played."
Florida had an 8-3 shots on goal advantage when the Rangers went on the power play after the Panthers' Dylan Olsen was called for holding at 11:48.
The Rangers were 0-for-6 on the power play on Monday. Wednesday night, on their first chance they used a precision three-pass routine to get the puck to Brassard, who beat Tim Thomas high at 12:13 to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. It was Brassard's fifth.
The assists went to Derek Stepan and Zuccarello., the Rangers had only 13 shots in the first two periods to the Panthers' 21. Still, they expanded the lead to 2-0 as Richards scored unassisted at 18:53.
Richards brought the puck up ice and kept it, firing one past Thomas from the faceoff circle. It was his team-leading seventh goal of the season and first in eight games.
Nash scored his second of the season 5:32 into the third period. His goal, too, was unassisted.
Florida scored with 7:32 left in the third period when Scottie Upshall beat Lundqvist on the Panthers' 30th shot. Nick Bjugstad, who earlier missed an open net, made it 3-2 with 3:43 to go. Zuccarello scored for the Rangers on the power play with 1:28 left. Hagelin put in an empty-netter at 19:36.