Rangers held scoreless for the first time this postseason in a 3-0 loss to the Panthers in Game 1

The New York Rangers trail in a series for the first time.

Associated Press

May 23, 2024, 9:49 AM

Updated 32 days ago


NEW YORK (AP) — For the first time in these playoffs, the New York's offense was non existent. Now the Rangers trail in a series for the first time.
Sergei Bobrovsky scored all 23 Rangers shots, Matthew Tkachuk scored the only goal Florida would need late in the first period and the Panthers beat the Rangers 3-0 in the opening game of the Eastern Conference final Wednesday night.
The Rangers actually did put a puck in the net, their own. Alexis Lafreniere tried to stop a cross-ice pass by Carter Verhaeghe and accidently deflected it past Igor Shesterkin to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead with 3:48 to play.
“I think we can play better,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “You know, I don’t think that was the best version of ourselves. And so we’ll look to see what they did, see what we can do better in all areas of the game. I think there’s more for us to get, more for us to do out there.”
The teams played a relatively risk-free game, looking not to give up too many chances. Florida used its size to pound the Rangers at any opportunity and did a very good job of cutting down New York's transition game.
Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) deflects a shot by New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) as Florida Panthers center Sam Reinhart (13) looks for the rebound during the second period of Game 1 of the NHL hockey Eastern Conference Stanley Cup playoff finals, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)
The best chances New York had in the first two periods came on rare breakaways. Defenseman Braden Schneider hit a goal post after Tkachuk's goal and rookie Will Cuylle was stopped by Bobrovsky's pad save in the second period on another one-on-one.
The Rangers' biggest problem most of the night was their passing. It was a touch off and it caused them difficulty getting out of their zone. New York also didn't get to the net quick enough and there were times players waited to take shot in hopes their would be traffic in front of Bobrovsky. The delays led to shots being blocked or players losing the putt.
The first goal came after Antemi Panarin skated into the Florida zone with space and then hesitated before losing the puck. The Panthers countered and Tkachuk scored on a shot from above the left circle.
“I think we showed that we have a lot better in us,” Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad said. “We looked at ourselves and we have to do better. And I think there’s room for a lot improvement.”
Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said his team played an outstanding game against the NHL's best team in the regular season.
“We played the right way. We need to play as hard as we can defensively,” he said. ”That’s what we have to do next game. We can build on this.”
The Rangers couldn't even capitalize on breaks in the third period. Florida had a goal by Oliver Ekman-Larrson disallowed because Ryan Lomberg interfered with Shesterkin. New York also got its second power play when the Panthers were called for too many men on the ice.
Both decisions got the crowd back in the game but it didn't help.
“I think we had opportunities to score and it just didn’t go,” defenseman Jacob Trouba said. “I think we kind of stayed even keel and continued to push. There was some chances in the third period. Obviously the goal being called back was pretty big. We just couldn’t find one tonight.”
The Rangers will get a chance to do that Friday night in Game 2 at Madison Square Garden. In Game 1, the sellout crowd of 18,006 had more to groan about than cheer, especially with every bad pass and weak or off-target shot on goal.

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