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Rapid Reaction: Rangers 6, Panthers 1

Powered by a pair of goals from both Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard, the New York Rangers beat up on the lowly Carolina Panthers for a much-needed 6-1 win at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night that helped them remain among the top eight playoff teams in the Eastern Conference. Rick Nash also chipped in with a goal and two assists as the Rangers kicked off an all-important back-to-back set that wraps up Friday night in Buffalo against the Buffalo Sabres.

Brad breaks through: Held off the scoresheet in the previous four games, alternate captain Brad Richards finished with a goal and an assist. Richards set up Zuccarello's second of the night with a nice backhanded feed in front; he then tallied a goal of his own on a wraparound shot with 1:24 left in regulation.

Power surge: Held without a power-play goal in all five attempts Tuesday night in Philly, the Rangers went 2-for-2 on their first pair of man-up opportunities. Brassard gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead 3:55 into play and Nash followed up with his own at the 9:10 mark. Gifted with a beautiful, cross-ice feed from Ryan Callahan, Nash ripped a shot past Panthers goaltender Scott Clemmensen for his team-leading 18th goal of the season.

Calder watch: Panthers rookie Jonathan Huberdeau continued his campaign for the Calder Trophy with a highlight-reel goal that cut the Rangers’ lead in half 2-1. The 19-year-old Huberdeau blew past Zuccarello to tally his 14th of the season with 4:43 to play in the first period.

Extra effort: Callahan is now a four-time winner of the annual Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award. The Rangers captain was announced as this season’s winner during the Rangers’ pregame ceremony. The award, named after NYPD officer Steven McDonald who was shot and injured in the call of duty in 1988, is given to the player that performs “above and beyond the call of duty.”

Moore throws down: In his first ever NHL regular-season fight, Rangers defenseman John Moore dropped the gloves against Jack Skille. Moore won the bout, and fans’ approval, with an impressive scrap that had the Garden crowd on its feet early in the third period.