The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first five minutes Friday night at The Garden, but the Panthers roared back to tie the game and beat the Blueshirts in a shootout, 4-3. It was New York’s 6th straight loss at home.
Alexander Barkov, who scored his 19th goal of the season midway through the 3rd period, scored the game-winning goal in the 3rd round of the shootout.
Mats Zuccarello scored twice for the Rangers. Brandon Smith added two assists.
Zuccarello and J.T. Miller scored in the first 4:11 of the 1st period to give the Rangers an early 2-0 lead. Florida goalie James Reimer gave up the goals on the first three shots he faced, and things were looking good for the Blueshirts.
Jonathan Huberdeau and Jussi Jokinen would tie the game with goals in the 2nd period. In the 3rd, Barkov’s goal at 7:23 gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead, but Zuccarello scored at 11:45, off a pass from Smith, to tie the game 3-3.
After a scoreless 3-on-3 overtime period, the game went to a shootout. Reimer stopped Zuccarello and Mika Zibanejad. Vincent Trocheck missed, Barkov scored, and, in the 3rd round, Michael Grabner missed to end the game.
Reimer stopped 29 of 32 shots. Antti Raanta made 34 saves.
The Rangers [now 44-24-3, 91 pts] play the Wild in Minnesota Saturday night