At a glance: A New York team clinched a playoff spot Tuesday night, but it wasn't the Rangers. While the Islanders secured a playoff berth -- their first since 2007 -- the Rangers failed to punch their ticket in Florida, falling 3-2 to the Panthers. Panthers goaltender Jacob Markstrom led the way for the lowly Panthers, making 36 saves to snap a six-game losing streak. Rangers center Derick Brassard whittled the lead to one goal with less than 33 seconds to play, but the Panthers held on for the win in front of a paltry home crowd.
Goal for Goc: With the game tied at 1 in the third period, Florida’s Marcel Goc gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead with a re-direct in front to beat Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist at 7:37. With Lundqvist pulled for the extra attacker late in the game, Drew Shore scored an empty-netter with 1:23 left in regulation.
No time to rest: Lundqvist made his 12th straight start Tuesday, and it remains unclear if he’ll get any time to rest from here on out. Though the reigning Vezina Trophy winner was kept fresh by playing only 62 of 82 games last year, the Rangers haven’t had that same luxury this season. With a playoff spot on the line, Lundqvist has played all but five of 46 games and may have to play the remaining two of the season.
Tie game: With his second goal in as many games, Rangers forward Taylor Pyatt tied the game early in the third period to spoil Markstrom’s shutout bid. Pyatt, who snapped a 26-game goal drought on Sunday, buried the rebound of John Moore’s shot to extend his point streak to four games.
Tip the scales: Despite spending most of the first half of the game in their own end, the Panthers tallied first on only their third shot of the game. Tomas Fleischmann snapped a scoreless draw, tipping in Filip Kuba’s point shot through traffic that beat a screened Lundqvist for a 1-0 Panthers lead at 5:04 of the second period.
Rough stuff: Rangers tough guy Arron Asham dropped the gloves against Panthers heavyweight George Parros in the first period. The two players appeared to have carried some hostilities into Tuesday’s game from the last time the teams played -- a 6-1 rout by the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.
Two to go: The Rangers possess what should be an easy schedule the rest of the way with their remaining two games coming against non-playoff teams. The Blueshirts wrap up a two-game road trip with Thursday’s contest in Carolina before returning home to MSG to host the Devils for the regular-season finale.
Up next: Rangers vs. Hurricanes, Thursday at 7 p.m.