CHICAGO (AP) — The New York Rangers, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider have all gotten hot, and are ready to chase a playoff spot.
Zibanejad and Kreider each had a goal and two assists as the Rangers scored five times in the third period and beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3 on Wednesday night.
Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and assist, and Filip Chytil, Ryan Strome, and Artemi Panarin scored as New York rebounded from a 3-1 loss to Boston on Sunday to win for the fifth time in six games. The Rangers also won their sixth straight on the road.
The line of Kreider, Zibanejad, and Buchnevich got rolling in the third in this one to break a 1-1 tie.
“I think it’s comfortability playing with each other,” Kreider said. “We weren’t able to get a lot going through the first two. There wasn’t a whole lot of flow.
“We talked about some things we wanted to do, some adjustments we wanted to make. Get in the middle, get inside, instead of just being kept to the outside and playing perimeter hockey. I thought we did a better job of that.”
Zibenejad has four goals in his last five games, and eight goals and eight assists in his last 11. Kreider has eight goals and six assists in 12 games.
Even so, the Rangers, who improved to 31-24-4 with 66 points, are six points out of the second wild card in the in East. New York’s next game is Friday at Carolina, one of the teams it’s chasing.
The Rangers know they need to win it.
“Our guys are excited about the game Friday night because it’s going to be a playoff-type game for us in a lot of ways,” coach David Quinn said.
Igor Shesterkin made 37 saves in his return after missing three games with an ankle injury. The 24-year-old has won seven of eight NHL career appearances since making his debut on Jan. 7.
Shesterkin went to the bench briefly with 2:44 left in the second after Jonathan Toews accidentally struck him in the mask with the butt-end of his stick. Shesterkin returned after a trainer attended to him.
Dominik Kubalik scored twice, giving him 25 goals to lead NHL rookies. Drake Caggiula also connected for Chicago, which has just one win in its last eight games (1-5-2).
Duncan Keith set up Kubalik’s first goal for his 500th career assist.
Robin Lehner blocked 35 shots for the fading Blackhawks, who let the Rangers power past them in the third.
“It was one our worst third period or worst period in general that we’ve had,” Lehner said. “I mean, look at their goals — a lot of alone chances right in front. We get out-battled and I need to make an extra save.”
Chytil opened the scoring 1:58 in with his 13th goal. He beat Lehner between the pads with a low shot from the left circle.
Kubalik tied it 1-all at 2:29 on a one-timer from the right circle. Set up by Keith’s perfect cross-ice feed, Kubalik ripped a shot just inside the right post.
The Rangers took off in the third.
“One of the things we talked about between the second and the third was we put ourselves in position to win the hockey game by playing 20 good minutes of hockey, because we certainly didn’t play 40 good minutes of hockey when the game started,” Quinn said. “Rarely do you get that opportunity in this league, and our guys responded.”
Buchnevich and Strome connected 1:28 apart early in the third period to put New York ahead 3-1.
Buchnevich scored from the slot at 2:33 after taking Kreider’s feed from behind the net. Strome made it 3-1 at 4:01 when he pounced on a rebound of Tony DeAngelo’s shot, then turned and fired from the front of the crease.
Kubalik scored on a backhander at 6:05 to cap a breakaway, but goals by Kreider and Panarin 53 seconds apart extended New York’s lead to 5-2.
Kreider plowed down left wing and then cut to the net and connected at 8:48. Panarin turned and ripped in a loose puck from the slot at 9:41.
Caggiula scored from the slot at 11:39 to cut it to 5-3, but Zibanejad countered just under two minutes later on a tip-in for this 26th goal He has goals in four of his last five games and six in eight.
Henrik Lundqvist dressed as the backup goaltender for the eighth straight game and hasn’t started since being pulled against the Dallas Stars on Feb. 3. New York has carried three goaltenders since recalling Shesterkin from Hartford of the American Hockey League for the second time on Jan. 29.
NOTES: Chicago’s F Patrick Kane had an assist to give him one point against all 30 other NHL teams this season. … Rangers F Julien Gauthier, acquired on Tuesday from Carolina for D Joey Keane, made his debut with New York. The 6-foot-4, 226-pound Gauthier was a first-round pick of the Hurricanes in 2016. … Chicago C Zack Smith missed his third game with a left hand injury. … The 26-year-old Strome, faced his younger brother, 22-year-old Chicago C Dylan Strome in this one. … Former Blackhawks D Jack O’Callahan, a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Gold Medal team, dropped the ceremonial first puck to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice” squad.
Rangers: At Carolina on Friday night
Blackhawks: Host Nashville on Friday night.
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