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Rangers ring in New Year with 5-3 beatdown of Panthers

Rangers ed two game skid with 5-3 win
Florida Panthers center Eric Staal (12) reacts after Sam Bennett scored a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Rangers, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
AP Photos

Mika Zibanejad scored twice and the New York Rangers snapped a two-game skid with a 5-3 win over the Florida Panthers on Sunday night.

Chris Kreider, Vincent Trocheck, and Artemi Panarin also scored for New York, which had gone 0-1-1 coming out of the holiday break. Jaroslav Halak finished with 31 saves for New York.

Nick Cousins, Sam Bennett, and Eric Staal scored for the Panthers, who have lost their last two games and eight of the last 11. Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 saves.

Zibanejad scored his first goal on a power play at 14:36 of the first period and gave the Rangers a 2-0 with his second midway through the second.

That goal appeared to roust the Panthers, who scored twice in the period yet trailed 3-2 going into the third.

Cousins put Florida on the board at 13:57 of the second before Kreider made it 3-1 at 15:44.

Bennett’s power-play goal with under a minute remaining in the second period gave the Panthers a lift and snapped an 0-for-9 drought with a man advantage dating to a loss at Carolina on Friday night.

Trocheck, who was drafted by, and spent his first seven NHL seasons with, the Panthers, gave the Rangers a two-goal cushion again when he tapped in a pass from Kreider on a power play at 1:38 of the third.

Florida closed within a goal when Staal scored his fourth goal of the season just over a minute later.

Panarin restored the Rangers’ two-goal cushion at 10:04 of the third, making it 5-3.

NOTES: The Rangers had Alexis Lafreniere back in the lineup after he was a healthy scratch Friday night in Tampa. Lafreniere was on the third line with center Filip Chytil and Jimmy Vesey. … The three coaches on the New York bench had ties to the Panthers. Gerard Gallant was head coach in Florida for parts of three seasons (2014-16), along with assistant Mike Kelly. Gord Murphy was an original member of the Panthers as a defenseman and was also an assistant coach. … Florida had Zac Dalpe back in the lineup after playing Anton Levtchi the previous two games. Levtchi was returned to AHL Charlotte on Saturday.

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