Panarin, Shesterkin lead Rangers to rout of Penguins
NEW YORK (AP) — Mika Zibanejad had a goal and two assists, Artemi Panarin scored twice and Igor Shesterkin made 33 saves as the New York Rangers routed Pittsburgh 6-0 on Saturday night for their second win over the Penguins in three days.
Vladimir Tarasenko, Chris Kreider and Jacob Trouba also scored for the surging Rangers, who have won nine of their last 11 home games and are 12-4-0 in their past 16 at Madison Square Garden.
Shesterkin won his fifth straight and posted his second shutout this season. He nimbly denied Pittsburgh forward Mikael Granland with a sprawling save five minutes into the third period to preserve the shutout, the 10th of his career. His other one this season was a 1-0 home win over Philadelphia on Nov. 1.
“When you put in hard and honest work, miracles happen,'' Shesterkin said through a translator. ”We played wonderfully today — scored many, many goals. Honestly, I hope the fans loved it. We're playing for them."
The Penguins lost their third straight and trail the Rangers by 12 points for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh, still in wild-card position, is trying to reach the playoffs for the 17th straight time.
“Tonight was a humbling experience for all of us,'' coach Mike Sullivan said. ”At this time of year, you have to have a short memory. We still have control of our destiny."
Patrick Kane and defenseman K’Andre Miller also had two assists apiece as New York improved to 7-1-1 in its last nine home games against Pittsburgh. The Rangers are five points behind the second-place New Jersey Devils, who lost at Florida on Saturday.
“This was a big game for our goalie and our team,'' Panarin said. "If you work at playing the right way, you have opportunities for goals.”
Since Dec. 5, when they turned around their season with a 6-4 comeback win at home over St. Louis, the Rangers are 29-9-5.
As he did on Thursday when the Rangers beat the Penguins 4-2, Zibanejad opened the scoring. He got his team-leading 36th goal at 5:10 of the first, beating Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry. Trouba and Miller assisted.
Panarin made it 2-0 at 19:49 on the power play, whipping the puck past Jarry from the left circle off a pass from Adam Fox.
Tarasenko increased the lead at 3:54 of the second with his fifth goal since joining the Rangers in a trade with St. Louis on Feb. 9. Tarasenko has points in 10 of his first 18 games with the Rangers.
Kreider made it 4-0 at 6:43 with his 31st goal and third in two games against the Penguins. Kane and Vincent Trocheck assisted on Kreider’s 260th career goal, which moved the Rangers forward within two of Vic Hadfield for fifth place on the franchise list.
New York won Thursday when Kreider scored the go-ahead goal in the third and added an empty-netter.
After Casey DeSmith replaced Jarry in net following Kreider’s goal, Trouba beat the replacement with a sharp-angle shot at 8:39 for his eighth to increase the margin to 5-0. Trouba has points in six of his last eight games.
Panarin scored again at 16:38 of the second — his 22nd goal of the season — to make it 6-0, with assists to Kane and Filip Chytil.
“We're building chemistry, building every day and every game,” Kane said.
Panarin has points in eight of his last 10 games and leads the Rangers with 77 points overall, while Kane has seven points in his last six games.
“It’s nice to see that many great players on your team,” added Panarin, whose first two NHL seasons were played alongside Kane with the Chicago Blackhawks. “We're happy tonight.”
Zibanejad assisted on goals by Tarasenko and Trouba and has 25 points — including 14 goals — over his last 20 games.
"It was just one of those nights when the puck goes in for us,'' Zibanejad said. “And obviously Igor gives us a boost making all those saves.”
NOTES: The Penguins were missing defenseman Jeff Petry after he was hit with an unpenalized elbow from Rangers forward Tyler Motte on Thursday. … Pittsburgh also scratched defenseman Jan Rutta and forward Dalton Heinen and played defenseman Mark Friedman for the first time since Feb. 11. … The Rangers were without injured defenseman Ryan Lindgren for the 10th straight game.
Penguins: Host the Ottawa Senators on Monday.
Rangers: Host the Nashville Predators on Sunday night.
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