The contest will mark the second of three games against Florida and the teams will meet for the third and final time in the regular season on St. Patrick’s Day at The Garden.
In the only encounter this season, at The Garden in November, the Panthers beat the Rangers, 3-2 in a shootout. Netminder James Reimer prevailed over Henrik Lundqvist making saves on Mats Zuccarello and Brandon Pirri in the special skills event.
Both Reimer and Lundqvist are expected to get the start in goal tonight.
Led by stellar goaltending from Antti Raanta, Mika Zibanejad’s overtime winner and an all-hands-on-deck spirited participation by all 18 skaters, the Rangers are coming off an important win last night in Tampa.
The importance being the acknowledgement that playing outside one’s skin over the course of an 82-game regular season schedule is going to be necessary. The return of Tanner Glass should not be underestimated and the edge that the Rangers played with made for an entertaining victory.
3 KEYS TO RANGERS-PANTHERS
1. Shot Barrage
Last night in Tampa, Raanta faced 38 shots, and tonight the Blueshirts will face a Panthers team that likes to get pucks to the net, having fired 40-plus shots at the last two goaltenders they faced. Boxing out and keeping rebounds to a minimum will have to be paid attention to.
The willingness to go beyond when initiating and responding to the physical part of the game was impressive in last night’s victory over Tampa. On back-to-back nights, it may be a little more difficult to find that will, but finding it once again will be important.
Winless in his last four starts, the Rangers should make it a priority to get after backup James Reimer, who will be once again in for the injured starter, Roberto Luongo. If Reimer is going to be a difference, at least make him earn it.
Follow all of tonight’s Rangers-Panthers action on MSG Network (TV) ESPN 98.7 FM (Radio). Pre-game starts at 7, puck drop a little after 7:30.
Check it out!