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Stepan leads Rangers past Panthers

Dec 12, 2011 - 4:35 AM
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Derek Stepan scored twice in a four-goal second period for the New York Rangers, helping them to a 6-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Sunday night.

Steve Eminger and Marian Gaborik also scored in the second period while Brad Richards and Artem Anisimov had power play goals in the first for the Rangers, who improved to 7-1-1 in their last nine games.

Henrik Lundqvist made 20 saves for the win. Jose Theodore started for Florida, but came out after giving up six goals on 22 shots in the first two periods.

"We got a good start, and obviously in the second period ... we caught a team that was probably a little tired and capitalized," said Richards.

Erik Gudbranson scored his first NHL goal for the Panthers in the first period and Scott Clemmensen made 11 saves in the third.

Florida went 1-1-1 on a three-game road trip and is headed home for four in a row after its most lopsided loss of the season.

"Any time you get a tail-kicking like that you always hear things from coaches like 'the will to compete.' Obviously, their 'want' was higher than ours," said Panthers coach Kevin Dineen.

"That's an old-fashioned tail-kicking for sure."

It started with two power play goals in a less than six-minute span. Richards faked a slap shot from the left circle and skated closer to beat Theodore at 11:40, while Anisimov scored on a rebound at 17:27.

Gudbranson cut the New York lead in half just 40 seconds later, scoring on a slap shot from the point as the Madison Square Garden announcer was reading Anisimov's goal.

Stepan's first goal came on what was basically a 1-on-4 -- he stickhandled in between two of the Panthers -- and Eminger was in the right place for a loose puck, scoring with a slap shot from above the right circle.

Gaborik scored on a backhand off a rebound in front and Stepan's second goal from the slot made it 6-1 with 2:12 remaining in the second period.

Game Notes

The Rangers are 14-3-1 in their last 18 games since Halloween. They snapped a two-game losing streak at MSG (0-1-1) and improved to 8-2-2 on home ice this year.