May 30th, 2024

Artemi Panarin scores 49th goal as Rangers beat Senators 4-0 to clinch Presidents’ Trophy

By Allan Kreda, The Associated Press on April 15, 2024.

NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Rangers have been on a mission since falling to the New Jersey Devils in the opening round of the playoffs last spring. They responded by finishing with the NHL’s best regular-season record.

Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist, Igor Shesterkin made 26 saves for his fourth shutout of the season, and the New York Rangers beat the Ottawa Senators 4-0 on Monday night to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy.

Jack Roslovic, Adam Fox and Alexis Lafreniere also scored and Chris Kreider had two assists as the Rangers won their league-best 55th game and finished with 114 points — both franchise records — and will have home ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

New York won for the fifth time in seven games and went 26-7-1 in their last 34 games. They previously won the Presidents’ Trophy in 1991-92, 1993-94 – when they won the Stanley Cup for only time since 1940 – and 2014-15.

“Obviously it’s an accomplishment,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said. “Now it’s a quick turn of the page and we get ready for the real stuff.”

Four teams – Washington, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia – are still in contention to finish in the second wild card and meet the Rangers in the opening round of the postseason. The Rangers had 107 points last year but were eliminated in seven games in the first round by the second-place Devils.

“They’ve been there all year. The team played well. They competed hard,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “We’re a group that feels like when they put their equipment on, they can win … Now you’re heading into why you did all that work, the first round of the playoffs.”

Roslovic, acquired from Columbus on March 8, scored his third goal with the Rangers and ninth overall this season at 5:55 of the first, beating Ottawa goalie Joonas Korpisalo by finishing off a 2-on-1 passing play with Kreider.

“It feels good. I’m glad to contribute,” Roslovic said. “It’s a special time to be able to come in and be a helping hand.”

Fox put the Rangers ahead 2-0 with a short-handed goal at 8:58 of the second. Fox finessed a pass from Kreider past Korpisalo for his 17th goal of the season with Kaapo Kakko ““ playing his 300th NHL game – in the penalty box for slashing. Fox has the most goals by a Rangers defenseman since Brian Leetch scored 21 in 2000-01.

“Knowing what was on the line tonight was a good way to end our season,” Fox said. “It’s been a full team effort with everyone chipping in. We did a good job a bearing down tonight and the crowd was into it.”

Panarin made it 3-0 with his 49th goal at 4:34 of the third. Panarin finished with 120 points – second-most in Rangers history to Jaromir Jagr’s 123 in 2005-06 – and with points in a franchise-record 67 of his 82 games this season.

With the Garden crowd chanting “MVP, MVP” trying to exhort their star, Panarin had a chance to score his 50th goal with a late Rangers power-play but Korpisalo denied him twice. The 32-year-old Russian forward had seven shots on goal. He smiled when asked to assess his 120-point season and his 17 shots attempts in Monday’s game.

“Multiple things, partners, coaching staff – the whole team,” Panarin cited as reasons for his best statistical year. “Pretty fun season. It’s good to have that experience but there’s no time to relax.”

Lafreniere increased the lead to 4-0 with seven minutes remaining in the third with his 28th, concluding a pretty setup from Panarin and defenseman Erik Gustafsson.

Kreider finished with 75 points, including 39 goals, for the second-highest points total of his career.

Shesterkin won seven of his last nine starts to finish the regular season at 36-17-2. In 22 games since Feb. 12, the 28-year-old Russian netminder was 16-5-1 with four shutouts.

The Rangers finished 30-11-0 at home, winning 15 of their last 19 at Madison Square Garden. The 30 home wins tied the 1970-71 squad for most in franchise history.

The Senators will miss the playoffs for the seventh straight season. The last time Ottawa reached the postseason was in 2017 when they defeated the Rangers in six games in a second-round series.

“We gave them the first two goals. Take those two goals aside and it’s a pretty good game,” Senators interim coach Jacques Martin said. “They have a good team. We battled hard. When you play these good teams, you can’t afford to give them freebies.”

UP NEXT:

Senators: Conclude their season at Boston on Tuesday night.

Rangers: Start playoffs at home

___

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

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