Rangers Pummel Panthers at MSG

With a four-goal second period, the New York Rangers defeated the Florida Panthers 6-1 Sunday Night at Madison Square Garden.

Continuing their hot streaks, Ryan Callahan, who had four goals and five assists in the team’s last eight games, tallied another point while Marian Gaborik , who had four goals and two assists in the past eight games, was awarded the Rangers’ Broadway hat for a stellar performance and his two-point contribution to the team’s win. But it wasn’t just the two of them who led the Rangers to victory, Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan also had multiple point games.

While Saturday night the Rangers showed their abilities to score shorthanded goals against the Buffalo Sabres, last night, they made the Panthers pay for their penalties by converting on two out of three power plays in the first period. Brad Richards scored the first power play goal and gave the Rangers the early lead after the Panthers received a bench minor for too many men on the ice. Collecting a cross ice pass from Callahan, Richards faked out Panthers’ goaltender Jose Theodore and sent a wrist shot flying into the back of the net. Anisimov extended the Blueshirts’ lead when he sent Eric Christensen’s rebound into the net.

Thirty seconds later, Panthers’ defenseman and NHL rookie Erik Gudbranson gave the cats a boost when he scored his first career goal by ripping a shot from the blue line past Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers’ ended the first period with a one-goal lead.

Although the Panthers were down by one, the game was still in their reach. That was before the puck dropped starting the second period. It was in these 20 minutes that the Rangers would complete an offensive assault that erased any hopes the Panthers may have had in a comeback. The Blueshirts scored four goals in a 12-minute span and Stepan led the way with two of them. The Rangers had just finished killing off a penalty when Stepan collected the puck Anisimov sent down the right side of the boards. Stepan beat Panthers’ Gudbranson and placed the puck in the top corner out of Theodore’s reach.

“I found a little ice to play on, at that point I had a lot of speed, and the defenseman, it’s hard for him to gap up when I come from the corner,” said Stepan. “I figured I’d try to make a move and get around him.”

Five minutes later, Steve Eminger made it 4-1. The Rangers’ leading goal scorer got in one the action a little later as Gaborik sent Anisimov’s rebound past Theo. Stepan came into the spotlight once again when he scored his second goal of the night off of Michael Del Zotto’s rebound. The Blueshirts second-period performance ended Theo’s night and backup Scott Clemmensen finished out the game.

“We try to play simple. We end up getting some fortunate rebounds and end up scoring some goals,” said Rangers’ coach John Tortorella. “I thought our penalty killing was really good. I thought everyone contributed and we just played. “

The Blueshirts defense had a big night as well, keeping the Panthers scoreless on seven penalty kills and allowing only one goal. Lundqvist stayed sharp between the pipes saving 20 shots on the night.

“It was obvious their will was greater than ours,” said Panthers’ coach Kevin Dineen. “When we play well, we travel as a unit. We were really spread out, very individualistic. We didn’t play as a group. That’s an old fashioned tail-kicking, for sure.’’

The Rangers, and especially Richards, hope to keep up the winning momentum as they face his former team, the Dallas Stars Tuesday night.

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