Rangers

Rangers Punish Panthers, 6-1

Blueshirts Break Out In Second Period
Marian Gaborik of the New York Rangers celebrates a second period goal with teammates Steve Eminger and Artem Anisimov during the game against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden on December 11, 2011.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Marian Gaborik of the New York Rangers celebrates a second period goal with teammates Steve Eminger and Artem Anisimov during the game against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden on December 11, 2011. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Derek Stepan scored twice, including a pretty coast-to-coast goal just after the Rangers killed a penalty, and New York beat the Florida Panthers 6-1 on Sunday night.

Stepan also assisted on Marian Gaborik’s goal late in the second period that made it 5-1 and seemed to take what spring remained out of the Panthers. New York looked nothing like a team playing for the second night in a row, putting away the Panthers for their fourth win in six games.

Brad Richards, Artem Anisimov and former Panthers defenseman Steve Eminger also scored for New York. Erik Gudbranson scored for Florida, which has lost two in a row following a three-game winning streak.

Florida went down 2-0 early after Richards and Anisimov scored power-play goals, but the Panthers replied 30 seconds after Anisimov shoveled home Erik Christensen’s rebound off the post. Gudbranson scored on a slap shot from just inside the blue line with 1:53 left in the first.

Stepan’s first goal came 5:45 after the first intermission. He darted down the right side and fired a wrist shot past Jose Theodore that made it 3-1 just after the Panthers failed to tie it while New York enforcer Brandon Prust was off for high-sticking.

On the faceoff after Eminger made it 4-1, Florida’s Krystofer Barch squared off with Prust. Barch got in a good shot early, helped Prust keep his feet three times as they traded blows, then Prust went down on top of him next to the boards and both were sent to the box.

The Rangers soon followed with two more goals, getting their fifth when Gaborik reached over to knock home a short rebound and their sixth when Stepan buried a long rebound with 2:12 left in the period. Florida coach Kevin Dineen didn’t bother sending backup Scott Clemmensen in until the third period started. Theodore finished with 16 saves on 22 shots.

Christensen mostly had a quiet night after being put in the lineup in favor of the popular Sean Avery, though his assist easily could have gone down as a missed opportunity. All alone and close in during a first-period power play, Christensen beat Theodore, but the puck bounced off the post straight to Anisimov, who shoveled it in for his sixth goal of the season.

New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped 20 of 21 shots a night after Martin Biron started for the Rangers in a 4-1 victory in Buffalo.

NOTES: Rangers coach John Tortorella acknowledged that he wasn’t blaming Avery for being ineffective in the few minutes per game the winger has been getting. “I’m just having problems finding ice for him,” Tortorella said. “It’s difficult to play that way.” He also said he liked Christensen better in shootouts, which the Rangers have only won one time in four this season. … The Rangers, who scored two power-play goals, went 1 for 4 on the power play Saturday night in Buffalo, and got a pair of short-handed goals. … The Panthers’ OT loss to Buffalo on Friday night cost them a chance at the team’s first four-game winning streak since 2008.

(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.)