NHL: Alex Wennberg’s OT goal lifts Rangers over Panthers

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For the second straight game, the New York Rangers needed overtime and once again, someone often lauded for contributing in other ways scored the winning goal.

Alex Wennberg scored on a deflection 5:35 into overtime as the New York Rangers outlasted the Florida Panthers for a 5-4 victory Sunday in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final in Sunrise, Fla.

The Rangers lead the series 2-1 after getting overtime goals from Barclay Goodrow and Wennberg. Game 4 is Tuesday in Sunrise.

Goodrow finished with four goals in 80 games during the regular season. Wennberg scored once in 19 games after being acquired from the Seattle Kraken at the trade deadline.

“It doesn’t matter who’s the hero,” Wennberg said. “We have everybody fighting for one another. Maybe I haven’t put up the same amount of points, (but) we go as a team, everything we do. Obviously, it’s a great feeling, it’s good for the confidence but I’m just happy about the team.”

“He does a lot of little things, maybe not as noticed as much,” New York’s Vincent Trocheck said of Wennberg. “He’s just been really good. He’s added a lot of depth to our team.”

After losing an offensive zone faceoff to Evan Rodrigues along the left boards, Wennberg went to the net. As Wennberg was left alone in front by Florida defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov lost the puck to Kaapo Kakko, who moved it to Ryan Lindgren.

Lindgren ripped a shot from the left point that hit the middle of Wennberg’s stick in front of the net and deflected over Sergei Bobrovsky.

“At the end of the day, you still have to get a piece of it or a redirect,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “He was in a good spot for a screen or redirect, a little bit of everything. He was able to get it done.”

“At the end of the day, you just got to find a way to score,” Wennberg said.

Wennberg scored his eighth career goal in 55 postseason games since debuting with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The goal touched off a wild celebration in a game where the Rangers took 14 fewer shots on goal (37-23) than the Panthers.

“It’s a tough series,” Florida captain Aleksander Barkov said. “They’re a good team. They won the regular season for a reason.”

“Anytime you put up whatever we put up tonight, when you don’t come away with a win you should be a little growly,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said.

Alexis Lafreniere and Goodrow scored two goals apiece for the Rangers, who won their fourth overtime game of this year’s playoffs after blowing a 4-2 lead.

Barkov and Gustav Forsling scored 1:54 apart in the third when Florida controlled the offensive zone and erased a two-goal deficit. The Panthers were unable to score on a late power play and nearly won it with 39 seconds left when Matthew Tkachuk cut in alone and was denied by Igor Shesterkin’s blocker save.

Lafreniere and Goodrow scored 25 seconds apart in the first period and the duo tallied 2:51 apart in the second to give New York a 4-2 lead.

Sam Reinhart scored two power-play goals in the first period for the Panthers.

Bobrovsky made 18 saves while Shesterkin stopped 33 shots.

After allowing Goodrow’s short-handed goal, the Panthers stormed back and got within 4-3 when Barkov redirected a pass by Carter Verhaeghe with 14:56 remaining in regulation. Florida tied it with 13:02 left when Forsling’s shot from the left circle sailed over Shesterkin.

Before Florida’s comeback, Lafreniere finished an end-to-end rush to snap a 2-2 tie with 4:37 left in the second. Goodrow beat Bobrovsky with a shot from the left circle while the Rangers were killing a four-minute power play.

Reinhart opened the scoring 2:50 into the contest by lifting a backhander over Shesterkin. Lafreniere tied it by finishing a backhander on a breakaway with 12:43 left in the first.

After Goodrow tipped in a shot by Braden Schneider, the Panthers tied it with 5:14 left in the first when Reinhart’s backhander caromed off New York defenseman Jacob Trouba’s skate.

–Field Level Media

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