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Sergei Bobrovsky, Panthers shutout Rangers 3-0 in Game 1 of Eastern Conference Finals

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final featured the Rangers and Panthers, separated by three wins and four points during the regular season.

Two second-period goals helped give the Panthers a 3-0 win over the Rangers Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Matthew Tkachuk scored a first-period goal for the Panthers. Late in the third period, Carter Verhaeghe received credit after Alexis Lafrenière tipped the puck in his own goal putting the Panthers up 3-0.

Wednesday’s game was a battle between two of the best goaltenders in this year’s playoffs and both delivered. Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky registered 21 shots. His counterpart, Igor Shesterkin, allowed two goals on 25 shots.

Wednesday was the first time since December 2022 against the Capitals that the Rangers were shut out at home. Both teams combined to go 0 for 5 on power play chances.

Florida won every statistical category in Game 1. The team had the higher faceoff percentage (60%-40%), more hits (22-19), and the fewest giveaways (12-2).

The Panthers used their aggressiveness to their advantage, often beating the Rangers to loose pucks and forcing them to make errant decisions with the puck.

Both teams felt each other out and were scoreless after the first 16 minutes of the game. Vincent Trocheck‘s shot in the first period knocked Sergei Bobrovsky‘s mask off.

With 9:34 left in the opening period, the Panthers went on their first power play after Jacob Trouba was called for a hooking penalty. However, Florida was unable to capitalize on the extra-man advantage.

The Panthers went up 1-0 after Tkachuk got the puck past Shesterkin’s glove side. Carter Verhaeghe and Gustav Forsling assisted on Tkachuck’s goal. In his first five conference final games dating back to the Panthers’ sweep of the Hurricanes last season, Tkachuk has registered five goals and an assist.

The Blueshirt turned the puck over six times and looked uneasy during the first 20 minutes. The Rangers only had five shots on goals compared to the Panthers who registered nine.

After their sluggish first period, the Rangers started the second with much energy. During the first three minutes, the Blueshirt registered four shots on goal.

Florida had their second power player chance at 7:43 in the second period after Rangers center Jack Roslovic was called for high-sticking. However, the Panthers once again came up empty-handed.

With 1:26 remaining in the second period, the Rangers got their first power play after Sam Bennett was sent to the penalty box for holding the stick.

Despite them having six shots on goal, the game remained 1-0 Panthers heading into the third period.

Much like the second period, the Rangers were aggressive with the puck but still struggled to get another past Bobrovsky.

With 11:15 remaining in the third period, the Panthers scored their second goal after Oliver Ekman-Larsson beat Shesterkin on his glove side. However, the goal was overturned after the Rangers’ challenge was successful after Ryan Lomberg had contact with Shesterkin.

Florida received its third power play afterLafrenière was called for hooking (10:28), but the penalty did not result in any goals.

At the seven-minute mark, the Rangers had three chances to tie the game, but Bobrovsky remained a brick wall in the net. But with 6:49 left in regulation, the Rangers received an extra man advantage after the Panthers had too many men on the ice.

After failing to capitalize on the power play, the Rangers continued to remain without a goal. With 3:48 remaining, Alexis Lafrenière accidentally tipped the goal past Shesterkin, and the Panthers went up 2-0.

With 1:21 remaining and Shesterkin off the ice for the extra attacker, Bennett knocked in an empty net goal to put the Panthers up 3-0.

Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final will be Friday at 8 p.m.


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