June 23rd, 2024

Zibanejad, Panarin pace Rangers to 5-2 win over Canadiens

By Allan Kreda, The Associated Press on April 7, 2024.

NEW YORK (AP) – Mika Zibanejad had two goals and an assist, Artemi Panarin had a goal and three assists, and the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 on Sunday night.

Chris Kreider and Alexis Lafreniere also scored, and Igor Shesterkin had 26 saves to help the Rangers get their 53rd win to tie a franchise record set in 2014-15. New York has won eight of its last nine games and 13 of the last 16 contests at home.

The Rangers have 110 points to lead Boston by three points for the most in the NHL. New York is also five points up on Carolina for first in the Metropolitan Division. All three teams have four games remaining.

“Mika and Kreids played with really good energy tonight,” said Rangers coach Peter Laviolette, who plugged in the versatile Jimmy Vesey on right wing with Kreider and Zibanjead. “Their line was effective.”

Cole Caulfield and Alex Newhook had goals for Montreal, which has lost three straight. Mike Matheson had two assists and Cayden Primeau finished with 41 saves. The Canadiens will miss the playoffs for the third straight season.

“This is tough building to come into,” Primeau said. “They are a good team. At the end of the day, you want to be competing against top teams.”

Kreider tipped in Panarin’s shot 3:59 of the third to snap a 1-1 tie. It was Kreider’s 38th goal this season and his 109th career goal on the power play, moving him past Rod Gilbert for second-most in franchise history. Kreider has goals in five of his last six games.

“I try to shoot the puck to him every time,” Panarin said. “He has good position, tips it.”

Panarin then scored his team-leading 46th at 6:09 to put the Rangers ahead 3-1. The 32-year-old Russian forward has 115 points, trailing only Jaromir Jagr’s 123 in 2005-06 for the most in franchise history. He has points in 63 of New York’s 78 games this season.

“Elite players do that with consistency,” Laviolette said of Panarin’s production. “His statistics the last seven or eight years are incredible. This year is his best. He’s been doing a really good job for a really long time.”

Newhook made it 3-2 with 7:47 to go with his 13th.

Zibanejad scored his second of the night and 26th of the season with 3:04 remaining before Lafreniere completed the scoring with an empty-netter with 1:15 left for his career-high 27th.

Lafreniere has 24 points, including 12 goals, in his last 24 games. And the Rangers are 20-1-1 when he scores a goal this season.

Caufield opened the scoring with 30 seconds remaining in the first period, banking the puck off Shesterkin from behind the net. The goal was his 24th and came in Caufield’s 200th NHL game.

Zibanejad tied it with a power-play goal with 7:29 remaining in the second. Panarin had an assist on the play to extend his points streak to nine games. Fox also had an assist to give him points in 12 of his last 14 games.

Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis said he hopes to derive positives in his club’s remaining four games. Montreal is last in the Atlantic Division with 70 points, a year after they also finished last with 68.

“We’re doing a good job at being process-driven,” said St. Louis, who became coach of the Canadiens late in the 2021-22 campaign. “We’re not quite there yet but we’re getting closer.”

Before the game, New York’s Vincent Trocheck received the annual Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, voted by fans and presented to the Rangers player who goes “above and beyond the call of duty.”

The award, first given to Jan Erixon in 1988, honours the New York police officer who was shot in Central Park in 1986 and left paralyzed from the neck down. McDonald publicly forgave the teenager who shot him and became a symbol of grace, generosity and determination. He passed away at age 59 in January 2017.

“It’s obviously a really big honour,” Trocheck said. “I’ve only been here two years. For me to get that means a lot.”

UP NEXT

Canadiens: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

Rangers: Visit the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

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