New York Rangers (19-11-4) at Florida Panthers (16-9-8)
|Date & Time||Wednesday December 31, 2014, 6:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Florida Panthers / New York Rangers --- Over/Under:
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The New York Rangers had their eight game winning streak snapped on Monday night and they’ll look to get back in the win column when they travel to Florida to take on the Panthers. New York struggled all night to get through the neutral zone against the Dallas Stars and though they kept this game close they never seemed to be in control. J.T. Miller returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch and scored a pretty goal off a feed from Mats Zuccarello with the Rangers on the power play to put them up 1-0. The Stars would answer with a power play goal of their own three minutes later to even the score and later in the period would take the lead on a goal by Ales Hemsky that Henrik Lundqvist would like to have back. Lundqvist was huggin the post with Hemsky in the corner to his left and somehow the puck squeaked by Lundqvist after it was thrown toward the front. New York would come right back down a minute later as Kevin Hayes deflected a Marc Staal point shot to make it 2-2 heading into the intermission. Once the teams came out for the second period it was the Stars who were the beneficiaries of a carom off the boards behind the net that led to a tap in for Antoine Roussel at 54 seconds of the frame and proved to be the game winning goal in New York’s 3-2 defeat. The Rangers managed to out shoot the Stars 30-27 in the contest but the vast majority of their opportunities came from the outside and there was very little zone tone for much of the night. Lundqvist has played extremely well during this stretch for the Rangers but Monday night was not at his sharpest.
If you’re a fan of the Florida Panthers right now you just want to see this young hockey club keep doing what its doing. Florida is 16-9-8 on the season and they’re coming off a wild come from behind victory on home ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday. Trailing 4-2 entering the final 20 minutes the Panthers struck quickly with Dmitry Kulikov recording his first goal of the season. Midway through the period it was Willie Mitchell tying things up and later on the power play Brad Boyes scored the eventual game winner. Scottie Upshall would finish the scoring with an empty net goal. Florida led 2-1 after Jonathan Huberdeau and Jimmy Hayes scored in the second period. Toronto scored three straight from their to take their two goal lead into the third. All 10 goals in the game were scored over the final two periods. The victory was the fourth in the last five games for the Panthers and it’s just another example of the type of exciting hockey this young club is playing right now. Jimmy Hayes has been fantastic and now has 10 goals on the season and he’ll get the opportunity to take on his brother Kevin for the first time in their careers in this one.
This is a tough one to call with how well both teams have been playing. New York always seems to get a challenge from the Panthers when these teams meet in Florida so this one could be entertaining.