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Dave Hyde: How do you lose a game you dominate? Somehow, Panthers are down 2-1 to Rangers

Dave Hyde, South Florida Sun Sentinel on

Published in Hockey

SUNRISE, Fla. — Afterward, the Florida Panthers stayed on their bench, waiting and waiting for the New York Rangers winning goal to be ruled official. The Rangers bench had emptied, the players already celebrating in their locker room. The Panthers waited, silent, as if in disbelief at what just happened.

How do you lose a game you’ve controlled?

How can you fall behind in a series you’ve looked in charge most of the way?

They had 108 shot attempts to the Rangers’ 44. They had two power-play goals to none for the Rangers. They controlled play so thoroughly in the third period the Rangers seemed happy to just throw the puck to the other end for constant icing.

“Under siege,’’ was the term New York coach Peter Laviolette used for his team’s condition in the third period.

Yet Laviolette was Sunday’s winner, his team up 2-to-1 in the series, this game just another in the Rangers’ postseason of big moments.

 

This day came down to small lapses, odd luck and good Rangers counter-punching that took advantage of any crease in the Panthers game. In short, it’s a big mistake not to notice the Panthers’ little mistakes that led to a simple shot from the point being deflected by Alex Wennberg for the game-winner.

New York, for instance, scored two goals in 25 seconds in the first period. Did one Panthers mistake lead to a quick second? Or take the their short-handed goal in the second period. Vincent Trocheck, the Rangers’ best player in the series, wasn’t knocked off the puck by Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour and passed to Barclay Goodrow for the score.

Sam Reinhart had two power-play goals Sunday, but calls the Panthers a “defensive team at heart” and that’s where Game 3 was lost.

“Our expectation at home is that we can keep it to two (opposing goals), maybe three at home,’’ Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “Not 4.”

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