Lundqvist helps Rangers beat Panthers 4-2
NEW YORK (AP) — Even Henrik Lundqvist was impressed with his company.
Lundqvist passed Jacques Plante for seventh on NHL goaltender wins list with his 438th victory, and the New York Rangers beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 on Saturday night for their fifth consecutive home win.
“To look at that list there are some really good goalies who played a huge part in the history of the game,” said Lundqvist, who had 39 saves. “It means a lot to me but as a goalie it also means you’ve been part of some really good teams.”
Chris Kreider had a goal and two assists for New York, which has won three of four overall. Vladislav Namestnikov, Brendan Smith and Filip Chytil also scored.
Namestnikov gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead with his second of the season 2:37 into the middle period. The goal was disputed by the Panthers, but officials ruled the puck crossed the line behind Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo.
“That controversial call, obviously, I think that affected the game,” Florida coach Bob Boughner said. “Confused, I still don’t understand. I think it should have been 2-2 going into the third.”
Kreider helped put it away with a power-play score 7:49 into the third. Lundqvist picked up an assist on Kreider’s team-leading 11th goal.
The 36-year-old Lundqvist is 7-6-2 this season. The stylish Swede is the only goaltender in league history with 20 wins in 13 straight seasons.
“He did what he has been doing all year for us,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “He’s an elite goaltender.”
Mike Hoffman had a goal and an assist for Florida, which dropped to 1-2 on a six-game trip. Aaron Ekblad also scored, and Luongo made 20 saves.
The 39-year-old Luongo is the only active goaltender with more wins than Lundqvist with 475. But he placed much of the blame for the loss on himself.
“Obviously I’m not happy with the first couple of goals I let in,” he said. “I have to be better than that. It’s on me to bail them out when there’s mistakes made but that’s how hockey goes.”
The Rangers bounced back nicely after a 7-5 loss to the Islanders in Brooklyn on Thursday, defeating the Panthers for the second time this season. New York started its current home winning streak with a 5-2 victory against Florida on Oct. 23.
Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Rangers are 12-2-3 against the Panthers. Lundqvist is 18-5-2 against Florida since November 2009.
Chytil opened the scoring at 3:03 of the first with his third goal in three games. The 19-year-old forward went without a goal in his first 17 games this season.
“I’m focused on every shift, this is my game,” said Chytil, who played on a line centered by Kevin Hayes with Krieder on left wing. “I feel great out there.”
Hoffman tied it with a laser shot past Lundqvist at 4:40, extending his team-record point streak to 15 games. Hoffman has eight goals and nine assists during his streak.
Ekblad then put the Panthers in front at 10:11 with a one-timer past Lundqvist for his third goal of the season.
New York tied it 11:49 into the first when Smith, a healthy scratch by Quinn the previous three games, scored his second of the season. The defenseman found space between Luongo and his right post.
“I was fortunate to put that one past Luongo,” Smith said. “It was a good thing to get that one. We got timely goals.”
NOTES: Rangers F Ryan Strome, who was acquired Friday in a trade with Edmonton for Ryan Spooner, made his New York debut on a line with Jimmy Vesey and Brett Howden. ... The Rangers meet the Panthers in Florida on Dec. 8 to complete the season series. ... The Rangers scratched D Brady Skjei for the first time this season. Mats Zuccarello was sidelined by a groin injury. ... Panthers D Keith Yandle extended his consecutive games streak to 732, seventh-best all-time.
Rangers: Host Dallas Stars on Monday.
Panthers: Visit Ottawa Senators on Monday.