Only two pucks made it past New York's star netminder as 'King Henrik' was the lone reason the Rangers were in the game.
In years past, one would have expected the Rangers to get that tying goal late. Perhaps even win it.
“We're not that fragile team any more,'' Stephen Weiss said.
No, they're not.
The Panthers held onto yet another late lead and won their third straight by holding off the Rangers 2-1 in front of an announced 17,461 at BankAtlantic Center. The win kept the Panthers atop the Southeast Division for at least another few days.
“We had a great effort, the guys really played strong for the full 60 minutes,'' said Jason Garrison, whose power play bomb from 55 feet out gave Florida a 1-0 lead in the first. The defenseman now has a career-high eight goals.
“This is what we needed. We've put together some good games, but this was a complete one.''
The Panthers have won three straight for the second time this season and are 3-0 in this four-game homestand.
Florida goes for its first four game winning streak since Jacques Martin's final season behind the bench four years ago on Friday when the Lightning come across Alligator Alley for the first of back-to-back games.
Florida is winning despite having a handful of regulars out. In a scary moment Wednesday, Tomas Fleischmann was taken out on a dirty hit from New York's Andre Deveaux. Fleischmann was hit in the head by a high elbow and lay motionless on the ice for a few tense moments.
Fleischmann returned to the ice in the final minute of the second; Deveaux did not. He was ejected for an intentional shot to head and will face suspension and a fine from the NHL.
“Every year the league puts out a video on what is and isn't legal,'' coach Kevin Dineen said, avoiding the term 'dirty hit' yet completely spelling out what it was Deveaux did.
“A hit like that would be one example of an incredibly .-.-. there's a guy who hasn't played much in the NHL. You could see it. The refs certainly made the right call. That's the kind of thing when you make a video of what's wrong with the game, that's one of them.''
The Panthers definitely missed Fleischmann on the five minute power play after Deveaux was sent to the locker room as they failed to add to their 2-1 lead.
Not that the Panthers didn't have any chances; Lundqvist (36 saves, second star of the game) was outstanding as he kept Florida's power play off the board.
The Panthers made it 2-0 just over a minute into the second when Kris Versteeg took a nice pass from Fleischmann and knocked in his team-leading 12th of the year. The Rangers cut into the lead three minutes later when Derek Stepan broke loose and beat Jose Theodore with a wrister from the left circle.
After that it was all goalies as Theodore and Lundqvist battled it out, trading one save after another. In years past, this one likely would have gone the Rangers way.
“Lundqvist is one of the best, if not the best, goalie in the league,'' Versteeg said. “You aren't going to beat him very many times.''
AROUND THE RINK
Center Marcel Goc missed a fourth straight game as Dineen said the undisclosed injury had to deal with his head – although wouldn't go as far as saying he had concussion-like symptoms. Goc was involved in a collision Nov. 15 at Dallas and has now missed four games.
“He was hit in the head so we're in precautionary mode right now,'' Dineen said. “We don't know what the exact injury is. He's making strides. He took a pretty good shot.''
Assistant general manager Mike Santos said he didn't expect Goc to miss too much more time.
-- Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov missed his first game of the season as he has a sore groin. Kulikov said Wednesday that he sat out for precautionary reasons and will return to the ice Friday against the visiting Lightning.
-- Dineen comes from a hockey family as his father Bill played and coached in the NHL – and was Kevin's coach with the Flyers in the early 1990s.
On Wednesday, Kevin Dineen went against his brother Jerry – the video coach of the Rangers.
“That didn't come from luck,'' Kevin said. “He's a valuable part of that organization.”
Kevin joked about how Jerry's nickname 'Chicken Legs' came from long ago. “It wasn't because he was fleet of foot,'' he said with a laugh.
Kevin Dineen wouldn't divulge any of the derogatory family nicknames he was saddled with. “I'll give you 'Dino','' he joked.
Kevin and Bill Dineen weren't the only family members to make the bigs as brothers Gord and Peter also played in the NHL. Shawn and Jerry Dineen played in the minors.
-- Dineen said the thought of putting goalie Jacob Markstrom in against the Rangers' Lundqvist was intriguing. “Swede versus Swede,'' he said.
Theodore, however, made his fourth straight start. “It makes for a tough decision as a coach,'' Dineen said.
Happy Thanksgiving y'all.