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Reinhart scores twice as NHL-leading Panthers beat Rangers 4-2

NEW YORK (AP) — Ryan Lomberg scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period, Sam Reinhart scored twice and the Florida Panthers beat the New York Rangers 4-2 on Monday night in a matchup of first-place teams.

Anton Lundell also scored, Aleksander Barkov and Gustav Forsling each had two assists as the Panthers won their fifth straight and 11th in the last 12 games. Florida leads the NHL with 42 wins and 88 points.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves to improve to 31-11-2 this season, including 15-6-1 on the road. The 35-year-old has 391 career wins.

“He’s been freakishly consistent this year,″ Panthers coach Paul Maurice said of his veteran goaltender. ”We’ve done a pretty good job of not asking him to be the best player on the ice most nights but he’s just found a way to do that for us.”

Since Dec. 23, Florida is 24-4-2. The Panthers also have a league-leading 21 road wins and 44 road points.

“We were faster as the game went on,″ Maurice added. ”It was a good road game.”

Will Cuylle and Chris Kreider scored for Metropolitan Division-leading New York, which lost for the third time in four games after a 10-game winning streak. The Rangers also had their six-game home winning streak snapped. Igor Shesterkin finished with 25 saves.

After a turnover in the neutral zone, Lomberg skated down the left wing and took a wrist shot that fooled Shesterkin at 6:11 of the third to snap a 2-2 tie with his fifth goal of the season.

”Great arena. The fans were loud and it was exciting," Lomberg said of the showdown atmosphere. "We knew it was going to be a big one."

Lundell added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the win.

Cuylle put the Rangers ahead 1-0 with his 11th goal on the power-play with 3:21 left in the first period, knocking home a loose puck. Bobrovsky had stopped Jacob Trouba’s initial shot from the right point but couldn’t corral the rebound.

Florida tied it on the power-play at 10:11 of the second as Reinhart tapped home a pass from Barkov after Barkov creatively passed the puck to himself in the offensive zone. Reinhart leads the NHL with 15 power-play goals on the road.

“This was a solid game by us - good defensively and good offensively,'' Barkov said. ”This is one of those places where you don't need that extra motivation. It's New York, world's most famous arena. It's always fun to play here."

Reinhart rifled home his team-leading 44th goal and second of the game less than three minutes later to put Florida ahead 2-1. He has totaled 14 goals and 26 points in 29 career games against the Rangers.

“We stuck to our game plan,'' Reinhart said. “I thought we were better on the puck all night. We got the job done."

Kreider tied it with his 31st goal — 12th on the power play — with 4:34 left in the second. Artemi Panarin got his 50th assist .and 85th point of the season — both team-highs — on the play. Only two other Rangers in franchise history have 50 assists in three-straight seasons — Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky.

Kreider said the Rangers had their chances but Florida's relentless attack proved to be a bit better. The Panthers also won this season's previous meeting, 4-3 at home on Dec. 29. The teams meet again in New York on March 23.

“I think we had some opportunities throughout the game to essentially take a hold of it,'' Kreider said. ”I think that we gave them a little bit too much time and space at times. They were really committed to getting pucks behind us and making us play in our own end."

UP NEXT

Panthers: At New Jersey on Tuesday night.

Rangers: Host St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.

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AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

Allan Kreda, The Associated Press