SUNRISE, Fla. – Artemi Panarin’s brilliant, puck-between-his-own-legs goal that opened the scoring in the first period of Wednesday night’s 4-3 Rangers loss to the Florida Panthers was pretty to watch, of course, but it wasn’t just some magical move that the Russian forward came up with out of nowhere.
"Honestly, I practiced this the last three days,’’ Panarin said.
Panarin said he saw a couple of players pull off similar moves in the World Junior Championships, and he remembered Vitali Kravtsov doing the move all the time in practice.
"And I just analyzed, why am I not doing this?,’’ he said. "And I tried it.’’
Panarin took a pass from Ryan Strome in stride at the red line, came in one-on-one against Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, pulled the puck between his own legs to get around Ekblad, and then slipped a soft backhander between the pads of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky for his 10th goal, at 11:08 of the first.
Panarin was asked if Bobrovsky, his former teammate with the Columbus Blue Jackets, said anything to him after the goal.
"No,’’ Panarin said. "(Bobrovsky) is actually pretty focused in the rink. It doesn't matter if it's a practice day or game day.’’
Panarin was asked about giving up three third-period goals to Florida for the second time (they held on to win, 4-3, the first time they played them).
"That’s a team that takes risks every time, and then (relies on) skill,’’ he said. "(Former coach Joel) Quenneville like this style… I know it's different coach now, but I think what he do for the team is still working.’’
Defenseman Libor Hajek played his fifth straight game after sitting out the first 26. Hajek, playing in place of Ryan Lindgren (out with COVID) partnered on defense with Adam Fox and played a season high 18:32. He earned his first point of the season, with an assist on Mika Zibanejad’s second period goal, but took two penalties, the second of which ultimately led to Florida’s second goal, which tied the game at 2-2… D Zac Jones and F Tim Gettinger, who were elevated to the active roster Tuesday off the taxi squad, were both scratched