SUNRISE, Fla. — Kevin Shattenkirk scored his second goal of the game 1:08 into overtime on Saturday night as the Rangers beat the Florida Panthers, 5-4. It was their third straight win and their second straight in overtime on their two-game Florida trip.
After a 1-5-2 start that sparked speculation about trades and coach Alain Vigneault’s future, the Rangers are on a 5-2-0 run.
“Step by step, we’re getting there,” said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 30 saves. “Every year, it’s a process to get everybody on the same page to do what we need to do as a group and personally. You need a lot from everyone all over the ice.”
Shattenkirk, the prized free agent who decided to come home to New York, scored his third and fourth goals, led the Blueshirts in ice time with 23:06, had seven shot attempts and blocked two shots.
“I’m not thinking anymore,” said Shattenkirk, whose long, high wrister through traffic eluded Roberto Luongo and tied the score at 2 with 1:02 left in the second period. “I know the systems and everything that goes along with the structure, I’m doing that instinctively and I’m able to play my game within that. I just feel a lot more comfortable knowing where my options are when I get pucks.”
On the game-winner, he took a pass from Rick Nash on a two-on-one and beat Luongo.
“My thought process is always shoot first, but the defense was cheating a little bit,” said Nash, who scored a power-play goal midway through the third period.
All nine goals were scored from the second period on, and the score was tied four times. “It certainly wasn’t what both teams expected after the first period,” Vigneault said.
The Rangers led 4-3 late in the third period, but with Luongo pulled for an extra skater, Vincent Trocheck sped down the right side and whistled a shot off the crossbar and in with 1:56 left in regulation. “Perfect shot from that angle,” Lundqvist said. “But I could probably take one more step. But that’s a goalie’s world.”
The Panthers had lost three straight coming in but were helped by reinforcements, including Luongo, who had missed six games with a hand injury. Three forwards also returned after missing time with injuries: Colton Sceviour (two goals), Jared McCann and Connor Brickley.
Early in the second, Lundqvist made a kick save on Evgeni Dadonov and stopped a second attempt from him in the lower right circle. Lundqvist later stopped a slap shot, and when the puck bounced off the stick of J.T. Miller (three assists), Sceviour scored on a backhander at 3:11 on the Panthers’ fourth shot of the period.
With the score tied at 3-3 in the third, Brickley was whistled for tripping Shattenkirk and put the Rangers on a power play. Ryan McDonagh hammered a shot from the point and Nash got the blade of his stick on the puck, deflecting it past Luongo for a 4-3 lead with 8:35 left.
Michael Grabner gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead 5:18 into the third on a breakaway, his fifth goal of the season. Three minutes later, former Ranger Keith Yandle sent a long shot through a scrum to tie the score again.
Midway through the second, McDonagh’s cross-ice pass attempt from the left point deflected to Nick Holden at the right point, and his one-timer hit a stick and went past Luongo’s right side at 7:54. It was Holden’s first point of the season.
“They had the lead a couple times, we had the lead, and in the end, we found a way,” Lundqvist said. “To come back with the same effort [as in the 2-1 victory over Tampa Bay on Thursday], you still need that desperation and focus.”