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Mika Zibanejad's five-goal game vs. Capitals was just plain crazy

Mika Zibanejad of the Rangers celebrates after defeating

Mika Zibanejad of the Rangers celebrates after defeating the Capitals in overtime at Madison Square Garden on March 5. Credit: Jim McIsaac

I’ve seen a lot of games during my 30-plus years in press boxes all over North America. The craziest one I’ve ever seen was played just over two months ago.

On March 5, I watched Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad score five goals  — including the game-winner in overtime — to power the Rangers to a 6-5 win over the Washington Capitals in front of a delirious crowd at Madison Square Garden. I’ve seen plenty of hat tricks, and even the occasional four-goal game. But five goals? No, never saw that before. Not in hockey, anyway.

Now, I’ve witnessed some great/ amazing/bizarre sports moments in my career. I was there for Game 6 of the Rangers-Devils series in 1994, when Mark Messier promised a Rangers victory, then scored a hat trick in a 4-2 win that forced Game 7. And I was there for Game 7, when Stephane Matteau scored that double-overtime goal that sent the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final against Vancouver.

I was in the overflow press box for that one, just below the old blue seats. And when the Devils’ Valeri Zelepukin tied the score with 8.3 seconds left in regulation, I remember a young boy in front of us turning around in exasperation and saying, “I feel like hitting that Zelepukin in the head.’’

I also was there when Roger Clemens threw Mike Piazza’s broken bat at him as he ran out a foul ball in Game 2 of the 2000 Subway World Series at Yankee Stadium. And I was there the night Odell Beckham Jr. made that still-unbelievable one-handed catch against the Cowboys that made him the biggest star in the NFL at the time. (That catch was the sickest single thing I’ve seen in a sporting event, by the way.)

But five goals, including the overtime winner, against one of the top teams in the league, in the thick of a playoff race? Now that’s just plain crazy.

Zibanejad completed his hat trick to put the Rangers up 4-3, and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin tied it. Zibanejad’s fourth goal made it 5-4, and Ovechkin tied it again in the final minute of regulation.

But Zibanejad was simply not to be stopped. He won it on a breakaway backhand shot 33 seconds into the three-on-three overtime. I get the feeling that if the OT hadn’t been sudden death, Ovechkin would have tied it again — and Zibanejad would have won it in the shootout.

Zibanejad had a stunned look on his face in the locker room afterward. He simply couldn’t believe what he had just done.

“I don’t understand it,’’ he said. “I feel like I’m speechless.’’

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