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Panthers’ Sergei Bobrovsky shuts out Rangers in Game 1 of East final

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Panthers’ Sergei Bobrovsky shuts out Rangers in Game 1 of East final

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NEW YORK — Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 23 shots for his first shutout of the post-season, Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and an assist and the Florida Panthers beat the New York Rangers 3-0 on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final.

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Carter Verhaege and Sam Bennett also scored. Bobrovsky, who had six shutouts during the regular season, had the second of his career in the playoffs.

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Igor Shesterkin finished with 24 saves for Presidents’ Trophy-winning Rangers. They lost for the third time in four games after opening the postseason with seven straight victories.

Game 2 is Friday night in New York.

The Panthers went 0-for-2 on the power play to fall to 9-for-43 in the postseason. The Rangers were 0-for-1.

With Florida leading 1-0, Bobrovsky slid to his left to deny a one-timer with Kaapo Kakko 6-1/2 minutes into the third.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson appeared to add to the lead when he beat Shesterkin from the left side several minutes later. However, the goal was overturned after a challenge for goalie interference because the Panthers’ Ryan Lomberg bumped into Shesterkin in the crease.

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The Rangers had a flurry of chances with about seven minutes remaining. Alexander Wennberg was denied on two attempts in close, Jacob Trouba had a shot blocked and Wennberg missed on another shot seconds later.

Bobrovsky made a kick save on a drive by Adam Fox during a New York power play with 5:25 remaining.

The Panthers made it 2-0 when Verhaege’s centring pass for Tkachuk was deflected past Shesterkin by Lafreniere with 3:48 to go. Verhaege got credit for his seventh of the playoffs.

The Rangers pulled Shesterkin for an extra skater with 3-1/2 minutes remaining, but could not beat Bobrovsky.

The goalie stopped a slap shot by Mika Zibanejad to preserve the shutout, and Bennett sealed the victory with an empty-netter with 1:19 left.

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Bobrovsky made a right pad save on Will Cuylle’s breakaway attempt in the opening minute of the second period to preserve the lead. Shesterkin gloved a point shot by Gustav Forsling with 7-1/2 minutes left. Aleksander Barkov got in close but his backhand try went off Shesterkin’s glove.

The Rangers had four shots on goal in the first 1:55 of the second period, and then went nearly 14-1/2 minutes without one until Adam Fox’s attempt with 3:42 left.

The Rangers got their first power play when Bennett was sent off for holding the stick with 1:26 left in the middle period. They managed two shot on the advantage.

Tkachuk opened the scoring late in the first period. Forsling brought the puck up the left side, dropped a pass to Tkachuk, who beat Shesterkin from the left circle over the goalie’s glove with 3:34 left. It was his fifth goal and 15th point of the playoffs.

About 1:15 later, Schneider got a breakaway and fired a shot past Bobrovsky that hit off the goalpost.

The Rangers had forward Filip Chytil back for the second time in the postseason. He missed the final 72 games of the regular season because of n injury believed to be a concussion before returning for Game 3 of the second round against Carolina and then was out for the rest of the series.

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