Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) celebrates with teammates after...

Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Chicago during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in Chicago. Credit: AP/Kamil Krzaczynski

Down a goal early in the first period Tuesday night in Chicago, the Rangers, according to Mika Zibanejad, didn’t sweat it. They knew, as well as they’ve been playing the last 12 games, they’d turn things around.

"When we're playing the way we want to … at least we give ourselves a chance to win every night,’’ Zibanejad said after the Rangers scored five straight goals, four in the third period, to pull off a 6-2 win Tuesday. "There's obviously the confidence in the group that we see that we can win in different ways. And at the start of the year, our third periods were the problem. I think our third periods are starting to get a lot better. And that's a good sign.’’

There have been a lot of good signs lately for the Rangers, who had a 17-4-3 record entering Wednesday’s game at Madison Square Garden against the Colorado Avalanche. They had won seven straight games, and 11 of 12, and they held the league’s highest points percentage (.771), with 37 points from 24 games.

They’ve played so well that they’ve been able to keep winning despite losing their No. 1 goaltender and best player in the first quarter of the season, Igor Shesterkin, to a lower-body injury.

Since Shesterkin went down in Friday’s 1-0 win over the San Jose Sharks, backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev – who had struggled badly to start the season – has won two straight games, in addition to closing out the game in which Shesterkin got hurt. In 134:52 since Shesterkin went down, Georgiev has allowed four goals with a 1.78 goals-against average. And he’s stopped 58 of 62 shots for a .935 save percentage.

"He played strong, made some key saves at key times on their power play and (had a) good solid game,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said of Georgiev after the win Tuesday. "I’m real happy with him. And (this is a) good opportunity, for him to play some games.’’

Georgiev said that the opportunity to play a couple games in a row, after getting very little ice time while Shesterkin was dominating, has benefited him greatly.

"Just being in the game rhythm (has helped),’’ he said. "Practices are not the same. You're facing one guy at a time, and in the game when it's 10 players in front of you, the puck is moving fast. I definitely felt (Tuesday), much better than the previous games.’’

Of course, getting solid goaltending is only part of what’s going right with the Rangers these days. Their special teams are really clicking at the moment. The penalty kill has been perfect over the last six games, snuffing 19 straight opposition power plays in that span, including a five-minute major man advantage for Philadelphia last Wednesday. And the power play, which went 2-for-2 in Chicago Tuesday, was 7-for-19 (36.8%) over the seven games prior to Wednesday.

For the season, the power play has 17 goals in 70 opportunities (24.3%), which was fourth-best in the league entering Wednesday.

"it's obviously going to go up and down during this season,’’ Zibanejad said of the power play. "Some games you get frustrated, and you try to do too much, but I think at the end of the day, speaking to our time together over these years now, I think when we kind of just get back to doing what we what we do best, it works out. We're not going to score every game, but at least give our team the momentum, and when we score, It's huge for us.’’

The penalty kill has been successful 83.3% of the time (60-for-72), good for 10th in the 32-team league.

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