Tied going into Game 5, Rangers-Panthers series in the East final is quite the show

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Some tickets to Thursday's Game 5 of the Florida-New York series at Madison Square Garden are listed for more than $4,000 apiece on the secondary markets. For Saturday's Game 6 in South Florida, listings for similar seats at ice level are reaching around $3,000.

Obviously, that's big money.

Florida coach Paul Maurice isn't going to tell anyone how to spend their dollars. But he is convinced that this Eastern Conference final between the Panthers and the Rangers — tied at two games apiece going into Game 5 — is giving fans their money's worth, no matter the get-in cost.

“I think it’s phenomenal hockey," Maurice said. "If you're up three-nothing, that’s easy for the coach to say. But it’s 2-2. It’s tight. Great saves at both ends. There's incredible skill, incredible speed ... just two really good teams. You can tell they have good leadership. They’ve got great skill. And it's 2-2. Both teams are going to play at least six games. And if you’re a fan of hockey, you’re going to get entertained.”

The Panthers tied the series on Tuesday night in Game 4, winning 3-2 on Sam Reinhart's goal 72 seconds into overtime — the third straight game that went past the 60-minute mark in this series. Florida won Game 1, New York took the next two in OT and then the Panthers got the equalizer.

A best-of-seven series is now a best-of-three, which likely isn't a surprise. New York has won a league-best 67.7% of its games this season. Florida has the second-best mark in the NHL, 63.9%. Thinking this East title series was going to be a cakewalk either way would have been foolish.

“Back to New York, it’s 2-2, get ready for Game 5,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said. “We didn’t expect it to be an easy series.”

It hasn't been — for either side.

Total goals: Panthers 11, Rangers 9. Out of the four games, the margin on the scoreboard has been one goal or less a staggering 95.9% of the time. Florida had a multiple-goal lead for the final 3:48 of Game 1, New York had one for 6:50 of Game 3. Otherwise, it's been tied or someone up by one the whole way.

“At the end of the day, we know what we have to do better,” Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad said. "We know what we have to do more of and the recipe to get the game our way and to kind of tilt the ice the other way and go on the offensive. Just got to do it more often.”

The Rangers had the best record in the NHL this season, earning them home-ice advantage throughout the postseason. Florida already has won a game at MSG in this series, and to return to the Stanley Cup Final for a second straight season, the Panthers will have to win there at least once more.

Including playoffs, Florida has the second-best road record in the NHL this season, behind Dallas.

“It’s going to be a great atmosphere up in New York for Game 5,” Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk said. “At the end of the day, they earned it. They had more points in the regular season, so it’s up to us to go in there and just win a road game like we have this year.”


Florida set a club record for road wins in a total season (including playoffs) in 2021-22 with 26. The Panthers broke it last season with 27 — and have broken it again this season with 31.

It's strength vs. strength now. The Rangers have the most home wins in the NHL this season, with 35.


The Panthers are 8-5 all-time in Game 5s, 3-2 on the road. They're 1-1 in Game 5s in these playoffs, beating Tampa Bay 6-1 to close out Round 1 and falling 2-1 at home to Boston in Round 2.

The Rangers are 30-44 in Game 5s and have dropped each of their last four — getting held to one goal or less in three of those four games.


Rangers forward Artemi Panarin had two assists in Game 4, pushing his total points this season — regular season and playoffs — to 134.

That's 10 more than any Rangers player has ever had in a full season. Jaromir Jagr had 124 in 2005-06.


AP NHL playoffs: and

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press