SUNRISE, Fla. - That Ruslan Fedotenko didn't become the third Ranger to fracture a hand or finger while blocking a shot this season was about the only good news out of last night's 3-0 loss to the Panthers.
John Tortorella said Fedotenko, who was struck in the right hand when crouching to block Brian McCabe's shot on a first-period power play and didn't return, has no fracture, just a bad bruise, and is day-to-day.
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Tortorella's mood was darker because of the poor start ("I don't have an answer," he said) and a holding penalty in the offensive zone by rookie forward Dale Weise that led to David Booth's power-play goal at 11:32 of the second period that broke a scoreless tie.
"The penalty aggravates me,'' Tortorella said. "When you're in a zero-zero game, it can't be a dumb offensive-zone penalty. I don't want to hear about a rookie penalty. You can tell that the team that gets the lead . . . it's going to be tough to find a way to win. There's not much room for error when you don't score a goal."
It was only the second time the Rangers have been blanked this season, but the power play (0-for-8 and 1-for-the-last-19) is stalled.
"Every team goes through this type of thing," said Marian Gaborik, referring to scoring only four goals (including one empty-netter) in the last three games. "We just have to jam the net, not go around the perimeter. It's going to come."
"We tried to ice him during the game, but he just couldn't grip his stick," Tortorella said.
Booth's 10th goal of the season came on the Panthers' 25th shot against Martin Biron. Defenseman Steve Eminger pushed Rostislav Olesz into Biron just before Booth's shot. "I still think the guy is coming full speed anyway," Biron said. "It's a gray area. Maybe we throw a couple guys in the crease. Toward the end there, we did that."
With the Rangers - who had played in Tampa Saturday night - trailing 1-0 in the third, a goal by the Panthers' Cory Stillman in a scrum in front at 3:23 was disallowed upon review. The officials ruled that Stillman kicked the puck over the line.
"We got away with one there," Marc Staal said. "We just couldn't find a way to get anything past [Tomas] Vokoun." He made 32 saves.
The Panthers made it 2-0 at 8:50 when former Ranger Christopher Higgins (Smithtown) knocked the puck past Michael Sauer at the point, sped down the left side on a two-on-one, waited for Michael Del Zotto to slide to block a possible entry pass and walked around him to beat Biron.
"We need to tighten up a bit defensively," Drury said.
The Rangers also did not convert power plays in the first and third periods. With a minute left on a third-period penalty to Shawn Matthias, Biron was pulled, but the six-on-four failed and Stephen Weiss flipped a shot from mid-ice into the empty net with 1:30 to play.
Notes & quotes:The Rangers are 9-1-0 in the second game of back-to-backs. They went 1-1-1 on their three-game road trip . . . They are 22-15-3 through 40 games and host Carolina on Wednesday.