Panthers tie up series with OT win over Rangers

Sam Reinhart scored a power-play goal 1:12 into overtime and the Florida Panthers beat the New York Rangers 3-2 on Tuesday night in Sunrise, Fla., to even the Eastern Conference final at two games apiece.

Game 5 is Thursday in New York, and Reinhart’s game-winner assured the Panthers of a return trip to home ice for Game 6 on Saturday.

The Panthers won 13 seconds after Blake Wheeler was called for a hooking penalty on Aleksander Barkov. Barkov was taken down from behind between the circles. After an offensive zone faceoff win by Reinhart, the Panthers easily moved the puck around.

Reinhart positioned himself in between the circles, got a pass from Barkov and, before New York defenseman Ryan Lindgren could block the shot, he released a shot that cleanly went over Igor Shesterkin’s left shoulder for his eighth goal of the postseason.

Sam Bennett and Carter Verhaeghe scored 3:31 apart during Florida’s dominant second period, but Alexis Lafreniere scored the tying goal 3:28 into the third.

Vincent Trocheck scored a power-play goal in the first period for the Rangers, who were scoreless on their first eight-man advantages of the series. Adam Fox and Artemi Panarin collected two assists apiece for the Rangers.

Bobrovsky made 21 saves while Shesterkin stopped 37 shots.

After Anton Lundell committed a high-sticking penalty on rookie Will Cuylle, the Rangers took the lead. Trocheck won a faceoff against Kevin Stenlund in the right circle with 11:17 left, cut to the middle of the slot, waited for a pass from Panarin and had ample time to rip a slap shot that went over Bobrovsky’s right shoulder and caromed off the crossbar.

Bennett forged a 1-1 tie 8:45 into the second. His initial shot was stopped by Shesterkin, but the goaltender did not control the shot from the right side of the net and the puck trickled in off his pad.

During a delay-of-game penalty to Barclay Goodrow, the Panthers peppered Shesterkin again.

Matthew Tkachuk’s cross-ice pass initially caromed off Verhaeghe’s right shoulder and banked off New York defenseman Ryan Lindgren’s helmet. Verhaeghe got the puck after it went off Lindgren and batted the puck over Shesterkin’s left shoulder.

The Rangers tied it early in the third thanks to a slick play by Fox. He weaved into the offensive zone, eluded Steven Lorentz and sent a backhanded pass from the edge of the left circle to Lafreniere at the edge of the right side of the crease. Lafreniere finished the play by redirecting the pass past Bobrovsky with 16:32 left in regulation.

–Larry Fleisher, Field Level Media