Marian Gaborik's goal 3:29 into overtime lifted the Rangers to their third straight victory, a 3-2 decision over the Florida Panthers, Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Gaborik's laser came off a neat drop pass from Derek Stepan, who led the rush up ice. The goal was Gaborik's team-high 23rd of the season, and pushed the Rangers point total to 54 on the season, one better than the Boston Bruins, who also won on Thursday night.
Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen excelled in defeat, stopping 38 of 41 Blueshirt shots. Martin Biron made 19 saves while winning for the eighth time in 10 starts this season for the Rangers.
Both the Rangers and Panthers had one-goal leads before the game's final outcome, but neither could build on them. Florida grabbed the early lead when Marcel Goc roofed a shot under the crossbar off a 2-on-1 rush just 4:16 into the first period. However Anton Stralman's first goal as a Ranger---a right wing shot that deflected off a Panther on the way past Clemmensen---at 17:44 tied the game before the opening stanza was complete.
After a scoreless second period, the Rangers capitalized on a Panthers too many men on the ice penalty early in the third to grab their first lead of the night. Brad Richards rifled a shot towards the net that deflected off Ryan Callahan, who was screening Clemmensen, and into the back of the cage to put the Rangers ahead 2-1 at 4:24. Before the Garden crowd could finish celebrating, though, Mike Santorelli skated around several Blueshirts and snapped a right wing shot that beat Biron glove side just 36 seconds after Callahan's goal, tying the game 2-2.
The Rangers received an injury scare shortly after Santorelli's goal when rookie Carl Hagelin engaged in a battle along the boards in the offensive zone and came away grimacing and holding his left shoulder. Fortunateloy for the Blueshirts Hagelin returned to action shortly thereafter.