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NEW YORK (AP) – Cam Talbot made 38 saves and the streaking New York Rangers beat the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Sunday for their 14th victory in 17 games.
New York (44-17-7) has an NHL-best 95 points and has earned at least one point in 17 of 18 games. James Sheppard and Matt Hunwick each scored his first goal for the Rangers.
The Panthers, who began the day six points out of a playoff spot, lost in regulation for the first time in five games. Brandon Pirri scored his 15th goal, and Dan Ellis made 32 saves.
New York led 1-0 after a disjointed first period due to Sheppard’s sixth goal of the season – his first with the Rangers – and Talbot’s diving save on Jussi Jokinen with 49.6 seconds left.
Sheppard was acquired from San Jose for a fourth-round draft pick in 2016 on March 1, the day before the trade deadline.
Talbot stopped 20 shots in the second. His most difficult save came on Willie Mitchell’s behind-the-net bank attempt with 6 minutes left that Talbot pinned against his legs and glove.
The goalie also benefited from a bit of good fortune when Aaron Ekblad’s wrist shot hit the crossbar with the Panthers trailing 1-0 with 1:57 remaining in the period.
New York’s lead grew to 2-0 when Hunwick’s point drive eluded Ellis 8:37 into the third. Just like Sheppard’s goal, it was Hunwick’s first with the Rangers.
Pirri’s goal with 9:49 left cut the deficit to 2-1.
Florida outshot New York 39-34 but went 0 for 3 on the power play. New York was 0 for 2 with the man advantage.
NOTES: Before the game, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault announced Sheppard would replace Tanner Glass in the lineup. According to Vigneault, Glass was experiencing “upper-body soreness.” … D Kevin Klein missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. … Vigneault did not have an update on star goalie Henrik Lundqvist, out since Feb. 2 with a strained blood vessel in his neck. Lundqvist was injured when he was struck in the throat by a shot off the stick of Carolina forward Brad Malone in New York’s 4-1 win on Jan. 31. … Florida coach Gerald Gallant did not provide a timetable for the return of top goalie Roberto Luongo, who has missed four games with an upper-body injury. “He’s getting better, but day to day. Skated (Sunday morning), so it’s getting closer,” Gallant said. “Obviously when (Luongo) is ready, he wants to play. But (right now he’s) just not ready.” … Along with Luongo, Al Montoya, Alex Petrovic, Tomas Kopecky and Alex Petrovic missed the game for the Panthers. … During a pregame ceremony, the Rangers honored defenseman Dan Boyle for playing in 1,000 NHL games.
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