New York's Central Park ERUPTS in celebration as Rangers fans watch team snatch dramatic overtime win vs. Panthers to take 2-1 series lead

Wennberg's deflection 5:35 into OT beat Panthers goalie Sergei BobrovskyThe win gives New York a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4 in Florida  

Alex Wennberg silenced hockey fans in South Florida on Sunday, while igniting a wild celebration at a public watch party in New York's Central Park.

Wennberg's deflection 5:35 into overtime beat Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to give the visiting New York Rangers a 5-4 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals - and a 2-1 series edge.

The Panthers had been putting pressure on New York netminder Igor Shesterkin in the extra frame, peppering him with five shots in less than six minutes. But all of that excitement and momentum was sucked out of Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, where 19,780 fans were on hand.

Meanwhile, back in New York, thousands of nervous Rangers fans in Central Park released a collective sigh of relief while celebrating the team's 34th comeback win of the season – an NHL record.

'Central Park is going to explode, as the Rangers steal Game 3,' ESPN commentator and former NHL star Ray Ferraro exclaimed on the broadcast.

Don LaGreca & Dave Maloney's call for the @NYRangers Game 3 OT-winner on MSG Radio Network

Iconic. pic.twitter.com/2cxq5BAwyb

— x - Rangers on MSG (@RangersMSGN) May 26, 2024

Rangers center Alex Wennberg scores the game winning goal against Sergei Bobrovsky

Rangers center Alex Wennberg scores the game winning goal against Sergei Bobrovsky

Central Park was the scene for an epic watch party as the Rangers pulled out an overtime win

Central Park was the scene for an epic watch party as the Rangers pulled out an overtime win

CENTRAL PARK ERUPTS AFTER THE RANGERS OT GOAL pic.twitter.com/2gmOp2118u

— Spittin' Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) May 26, 2024

The play unfolded with Ryan Lindgren taking a shot from the left point, which Wennberg miraculously managed to redirect with the shaft of his stick – not the blade.

Shesterkin made 34 stops, while Alexis Lafrenière scored two goals and Barclay Goodrow continued his surprising playoff barrage with two more scores for the Rangers.

Sam Reinhart had two power-play goals, while Aleksander Barkov and Gustav Forsling also scored for the Panthers, who'll play host to Game 4 on Tuesday night. Bobrovsky stopped 18 shots for Florida, which has dropped back-to-back games for the first time in these playoffs — both in OT.

New York led 4-2 going into the third. The Rangers were 26-0-1 this season entering Sunday in games where they led by two or more goals with 20 minutes remaining.

The New York Rangers celebrate after defeating the Florida Panthers in overtime

The New York Rangers celebrate after defeating the Florida Panthers in overtime

The Panthers weren't fazed — it was tied up with 13:02 left.

Barkov and Forsling scored less than two minutes apart in the third to erase that two-goal deficit, and Florida caught a break — the right break — with 7:34 left when Barkov was originally called for a high-stick that would have given the Rangers a 4-minute power play. But after review, it was determined that Mika Zibanejad was hit with his own stick and the Barkov penalty came off the board.

From there, the rest of regulation was, depending on perspective, either all Panthers or all Shesterkin.

Over the last 8:10 of the third, the NHL credited 24 shot attempts — all of them by Florida, as the Panthers just unleashed a barrage on Shesterkin. Of the 24 shot tries, only six were on goal and needed to be saved; nine were blocked, eight missed and one hit the post.

None found the back of the net, and to overtime the teams went.

Sergei Bobrovsky tends goal against the New York Rangers during the third period

Sergei Bobrovsky tends goal against the New York Rangers during the third period

Probably long forgotten by the finish was the wild start, a complete flip of how the first two games went at Madison Square Garden when Bobrovsky gave up two goals and Shesterkin gave up two goals — not including an own goal and an empty-netter — in 134 minutes of play.

Sunday was different. It was 2-2 after 15 minutes.

Reinhart opened the scoring, Lafrenière and Goodrow scored 25 seconds apart — the fifth-fastest pair of goals in Rangers playoff history — for a 2-1 New York lead. Reinhart tied it later in the first on a goal very similar to his first one, a backhander he lifted past Shesterkin from down low.

Lafrenière and Goodrow each tallied again in the second, Florida answered in the third. But it was the Rangers who struck last, and they're now just two wins away from their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 2014.

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