Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers in the third...

Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers in the third period against Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Coming off their 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, the Rangers had the luxury of being able to take Friday off, given they didn’t have to travel anywhere and they didn’t have a whole lot of advance scouting work to do to prepare for Saturday’s opponent — the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“It feels like the shortened season [in 2021], when we played every team back-to-back home, and then away," Mika Zibanejad said Thursday night. “Even before tonight’s game, we know how they play, and I’m pretty sure they know how we play, as well. Nothing new, nothing surprising."

Well, there may be something new. The Rangers seem to be playing better than they were two weeks ago.

After all the talk about needing time for the new players they’ve added over the last month to jell with the rest of the group, in the last two games against Washington and Pittsburgh there does seem to be some jelling going on for the Rangers, who are 39-19-10, and 4-0-1 in their last five.

“I think we’re more comfortable with our group; guys are getting more comfortable as lines, as [defense] pairs,’’ said Chris Kreider, who scored the winning goal and the empty-net insurance goal on Thursday.

The last two games, Kreider has played on a line with center Vincent Trocheck and the newest Ranger, Patrick Kane. And on Thursday, that trio worked well together, outshooting its opponents 7-4, outscoring them 1-0, and generating five high-danger scoring chances — compared with allowing one against — in 12:30 of ice time at 5-on-5, according to Natural Stat Trick.

“A lot of communication, a lot of talk. Getting more comfortable with one another,’’ Kreider said in talking about his line developing chemistry. “I played a handful with ‘Troch’ this year and got to know him pretty well. And it’s pretty easy to play with ‘Kaner.’ So, just talking on the bench, talking in practice and continuing to try and improve.’’

But that line wasn’t the most dynamic for the Rangers on Thursday. The line of Zibanejad between Russian besties Artemi Panarin and Vladimir Tarasenko was pretty exciting, even if the analytics didn’t necessarily back up the eye test. Playing most of the night against Sidney Crosby’s line, they were outshot, 16-10, but were even in goals, 1-1, with Zibanejad’s breakaway goal in the first period being offset by Rickard Rakell’s in the second.

Watching the way they moved, however, how they passed to each other, and seemed to know where each other was on ice, suggested they are beginning to figure each other out.

“It’s easy to play with Artemi and Mika, they’re very good players, and play an unselfish game,’’ Tarasenko said. “We understand each other more, so you don’t have to look around [because] you know what your linemate’s doing.’’

“I thought there were real good [Thursday],’’ Gallant said. “They were excellent. The chemistry's starting to connect a little bit. And then Kreider and them guys go out and get the winning goal, and then the empty net goal. So everybody's chipping in."

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