Panthers Shut Out Rangers to Take Game 1 of Eastern Conference Final – The Hockey Writers – NHL News

The Florida Panthers defeated the New York Rangers 3-0 to take the first game of their Eastern Conference Final series.

Matthew Tkachuk opened the scoring to put Florida up 1-0. He has five goals in his first five career conference finals games.

Panthers defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson appeared to have scored the second goal, but after a Rangers challenge, it was determined that Ryan Lomberg had interfered with Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin, and the goal was disallowed.

The Panthers’ second goal was credited to Carter Verhaeghe when a pass attempt ricocheted off Alexis Lafreniere and past Shesterkin.

Panthers’ goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was outstanding on the night, registering 23 saves. Heading into the series, Bobrovsky has allowed two or fewer goals in six of his last seven starts, posting a 1.88 goals-against average with a .919 save percentage.

Sam Bennett added an empty net goal to give the Panthers their final margin of victory.

The Panthers improved to 7-0 in their last seven contests during the conference finals, dating back to Game 6 of the 1996 conference finals.

News and Notes

New York and Florida are meeting in the playoffs for the second time ever with the first occurrence during a Rangers’ five-game series win in the 1997 conference quarterfinals, as the Rangers eliminated the Panthers in Round 1. During the 2023-24 regular season, they saw each other three times, with the Panthers coming out on top with a 2-0-1 record.

Shesterkin appeared in his 39th career playoff game and passed John Vanbiesbrouck (38 games) for sole possession of fourth on the franchise’s all-time list. He trails only Henrik Lundqvist (130 games), Mike Richter (76 games) and Ed Giacomin (65 games).

The Panthers have won each of their last three road playoff games and haven’t surrendered more than two goals in their last five games.

The two teams will meet again on Friday, May 24, at Madison Square Garden.

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