Rapid Reaction: Panthers 3, Rangers 1

March, 21, 2013
3/21/13
9:41
PM ET
What it means: Despite outshooting Florida 45-24 and whittling a two-goal deficit with a goal from Marian Gaborik late in the third period, the Rangers still fell to the lowly Panthers 3-1 at Madison Square Garden Thursday night. Entering the game on a two-game winning-streak, the Rangers squandered a prime opportunity to climb the Eastern Conference standings as the Panthers white-knuckled their way to a victory in the two clubs' first meeting of the season.

Boo birds: The crowd at Madison Square Garden did not hold back, booing the Rangers off the ice at the end of the second period with the Blueshirts down 2-0. Multiple players on the Rangers bench -- including defenseman Michael Del Zotto and Gaborik -- were venting frustration at their futility through the first 40 minutes. Del Zotto ended his second period with an ugly turnover that led to a Florida breakaway; Gaborik was shaking his head after a missed scoring opportunity on Jacob Markstrom. Gaborik beat Markstrom in the final frame, slicing between two defenders on a break to cut the Panthers lead in half with 3:48 remaining in the game.

Still trailing: Already down 1-0 after the first period, the Rangers found themselves buried even deeper after another Panthers goal in the second. Florida’s Scottie Upshall was credited with the goal, scored on a scramble in front. Jack Skille and Shawn Matthias picked up assists on the play.

Early hole: The Rangers went down 1-0 after a sluggish start to the first period that the Panthers exploited. Defenseman Brian Campbell tallied with a slap shot on the power-play to give the Panthers the lead at 8:22.

Kreider returns: Recalled from the minors on Wednesday, Chris Kreider played in his first game back since Feb. 26. He skated on the team’s third line with Brian Boyle and rookie J.T. Miller. Prior to his recall, Kreider scored six goals in eight games for the AHL's Connecticut Whale.

So long, Sustr: The Rangers were among the many disappointed teams to miss out on college free agent defenseman Andrej Sustr, who agreed to terms with Tampa Bay Thursday. The 6-foot-8 Sustr, who announced his decision to leave the University of Nebraska-Omaha earlier this week, garnered plenty of interest across the league but ultimately chose the Lightning. The Rangers were informed they were out of the hunt Thursday morning.

Up Next: Rangers vs. Capitals, Sunday at 7 p.m.
Katie Strang covers the Rangers, Islanders and Devils for ESPNNewYork.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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