OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Mika Zibanejad made himself right at home — at the expense of his former team.
Zibanejad had his third career hat trick and added an assist to help the New York Rangers beat the Ottawa Senators 4-1 on Saturday night.
“I can’t really explain what’s going on right now,” Zibanejad said. “I’m playing with good teammates and unbelievable players out there. I’m getting a lot of chances and now they’re going in so I’ll try to take advantage as that as much as I can.”
Zibanejad, who was drafted sixth overall by the Senators in 2011, is only the second player in Rangers history to record eight points in the first two games of the season. On Thursday night, he had a goal and three assists in New York’s 6-4 home victory over Winnipeg.
“This is where I started, where I got the first opportunity to play in the NHL and I’m really thankful for that,” Zibanejad said. “To come here and do that (hat trick) I think is a night I’ll remember for a long time.”
Artemi Panarin also scored for the Rangers, and Alexandar Georgiev stopped 31 shots.
Brady Tkachuk scored for the Senators, and Craig Anderson made 26 saves. The Senators have given up nine goals in their first two games, and rookie coach D.J. Smith put the team on notice.
“I thought a lot of guys played hard, there was some guys that played hard out there, let’s not get it wrong that it was everyone,” Smith said. “There’s just some guys that didn’t play at the level they have to play and that won’t be acceptable. You’ll either drop down a line or you won’t get to play.”
Zibanejad opened the scoring on a power-play at 6:04 of the first period, and Tkachuk tied it midway through the period.
Zibanejad broke the tie at 9:53 of the second and made it 3-1 with a short-handed goal at 12:07. Zibanejad then set up Panarin’s power-play goal early in the third.
The Senators announced they will retire Chris Phillips’ No. 4 on Feb. 18. Phillips is the Senators’ leader in games played at 1,179. He officially retired in 2016. He will join Daniel Alfredsson as the only other modern era players to have a number retired. Ottawa defenseman Cody Goloubef and center Filip Chlapik were healthy scratches, as were New York centers Greg McKegg and Micheal Haley.
The Rangers host Edmonton on Saturday night.
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