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Mika Zibanejad scores another hat trick as Rangers rout Flyers

Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad of the Rangers

Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad of the Rangers react after a goal against the Flyers in the second period at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday in Philadelphia,. Credit: Getty Images/Mitchell Leff

Once again, the Rangers dominated the Flyers.

Once again, Mika Zibanejad had a hat trick by the second period.

There were some differences, however, in the Rangers’ 8-3 victory over the Flyers on Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

The last time the teams met, on March 17 at the Garden, the Rangers won, 9-0. This time it wasn’t a shutout even though the Rangers got their No. 1 goalie back.

Igor Shesterkin, who missed 10 games with a groin injury, made 41 saves.

The Rangers, who have won three straight, were outshot 44-22.

Another difference: The Rangers don’t have to wait eight days to play the Flyers again. The teams will face off again on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.

Zibanejad, who also had three assists, had a six-point night and has 15 points in his last five games. He’s the first Rangers player to have two six-point games in one season and the first NHL player to have a pair of six-point games against the same opponent in consecutive regular-season meetings.

"The puck seems to go in right now, obviously," Zibanejad said. "It’s nice to be able to contribute offensively for the team, especially since the start in the first part of the season. It’s obviously a great feeling when you win and you can contribute."

Defenseman Adam Fox had five assists and Ryan Strome had a goal and three assists. It’s the first time the Rangers have had three players with at least four points in a game since Dec. 28, 2005, against the Islanders (Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka and Michael Nylander).

The Rangers had scored 15 consecutive goals against the Flyers and were leading 6-0 when Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux scored at 3:46 of the second period.

Before that, the Rangers scored early and often. Strome and Pavel Buchnevich (two goals) scored 52 seconds apart in the first. Zibanejad got on the board later in the period with a power-play goal.

The pyrotechnics continued in the second period as the Rangers scored three goals in 1:48.

"I think, obviously, scoring goals on the power play helps," Fox said. "I think we’re not cheating the game. We’re getting chances off the rush, capitalizing on that, and it starts on the back end and we get chances off that."

Zibanejad made it 4-0 just 54 seconds into the second with a second-chance power-play goal after Carter Hart (five goals allowed on 11 shots) made a rare save. Zibanejad struck again at 2:06 with another power-play goal that chased Hart and earned Zibanejad his second natural hat trick in eight days.

The first shot against Brian Elliott went in, too, as K’Andre Miller made it 6-0. Elliott was the starting goalie for the March 17 game and was pulled for Hart.

Before the onslaught, Shesterkin was tested as he stopped Nolan Patrick’s shot with his chest on the Flyers’ first good chance about five minutes into the game. Less than three minutes later, Kevin Hayes was alone in front and spun and shot. Shesterkin gloved it.

"As a whole, from the first faceoff, I focused on the game," Shesterkin said through an interpreter. "The guys blocked a few shots early and then the goals started coming and then the game scenario started working in our favor, so it was easier."

The Flyers showed signs of life in the second half of the second period as the Rangers appeared to let up and were whistled for three penalties. Hayes made it 6-2 with a power-play goal at 13:34.

"I think we just quit playing as soon as we scored the sixth goal," acting coach Kris Knoblauch said. "A lot of credit to the Flyers."

The Flyers opened the third with 1:41 left on another power play, but Buchnevich scored shorthanded 33 seconds in. Filip Chytil capped the scoring with 1:58 left.

Notes & quotes: Rangers assistant coaches Jacques Martin and Greg Brown cleared COVID-19 protocols and rejoined the team. Martin was on the bench with Knoblauch and associate GM Chris Drury. Brown started the game in the press box . . . Forward Phil DiGiuseppe was cleared off the COVID-19 list, but forward Brett Howden remains on it.

  

New York Sports