Rapid Reaction: Panthers 4, Rangers 3

January, 25, 2011
1/25/11
9:34
PM ET
WHAT IT MEANS: The Rangers head into the All-Star Break with a loss after a 4-3 home defeat to the Florida Panthers at the Garden Tuesday night. The Rangers concluded their stretch of five games in seven days with a 3-2 record and enter the break with a record of 29-20-3 (61 points), which has them in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY: While picking up wins on the road against Atlanta and Washington in their past two games was a bonus, the Rangers missed a golden chance at home to pick up two more points against an inferior foe. The Panthers entered the game 11th in the Eastern Conference and had lost four straight and seven of their last 10 games.

BACK BREAKER: The game-winning goal was a rather odd score as a Mike Weaver slapshot deflected off the back of Rangers center Artem Anisimov and over the head of Henrik Lundqvist to give the Panthers a 4-3 lead with 8:19 left in the game.

MISSING THE TRIFECTA: In their two previous wins, the Rangers came back from third period deficits to win in the shootout. While the Rangers rallied to the game at 3-3 with third period goals from Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust, they couldn’t complete the trifecta and send the game to the shootout.

HAMMERIN’ HANK: Since posting his 31st career shutout on Jan. 19, it’s been a rough three-game stretch for Lundqvist. The goalie has given up 10 goals in those games and the Rangers have gone 1-2. In Lundqvist’s previous six games, the goalie had yielded just 10 goals.

After the Rangers tied the game at 1-1 early in the second, Lundqvist allowed two goals in the next 1:54 and the Panthers took a 3-1 lead. He even received mock cheers from the fans for making a stop in the second period.

In fairness to Lundqvist, two goals were deflections off his own teammate, including the game winner.

WHO SCORED?: Keaton Ellerby and Rositslav Olesz probably weren’t the guys the Rangers gameplanned to keep from scoring, but the duo scored a pair of unlikely goals to help the Panthers. Oslez’s goal that gave Florida a 1-0 lead was just his fourth of the season, while Ellerby scored his first goal of the season to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead.

KING OF THE MATS: Rookie Mats Zuccarrello posted a career-best three assists, contributing an assist on each of the Rangers first three goals. He now has eight assists on the season.

UP NEXT: The Rangers will have six days off for the All-Star Break before hosting Pittsburgh on Feb. 1 at MSG. The Devils come to town two days later.

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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