Igor Shesterkin shutout streak ends at 152:37 in 3rd straight victory over Devils
Pavel Buchnevich notches his 1st NHL hat trick on 26th birthday
Pavel Buchnevich gave himself a birthday present and the New York Rangers another much-needed win in their pursuit of the playoffs.
"Obviously he is a very good player with very big hockey IQ," said teammate Artemi Panarin, who had a goal and three assists. "I want to wish him a happy birthday, especially he scores a hat trick. He played a huge role in this team defensively, penalty killing, offensively. He is a very important member of this team."
The 26-year-old Buchnevich has taken major strides in his fifth season. His 19 goals lead the team despite not being on the No. 1 power play unit. He is also killing penalties this season.
Ryan Strome had a goal and an assist in a three-goal first-period outburst as the Rangers improved to 12-4-3 in their last 19 games.
"It's really good to see that we've put ourselves in this position to be playing meaningful hockey, be four points out of a playoff spot with 12 games to go," Rangers coach Dave Quinn said. "I mean, anything could happen moving forward here."
With rookie goaltender Igor Shesterkin going for his third straight shutout, the Rangers took a nap after taking a 4-0 lead.
Season-high 5-game points streak
Michael McLeod of Mississauga, Ont., broke Shesterkin'a shutout streak at 152 minutes 37 seconds when he scored in close in the second period. New Jersey then got within 4-3 when P.K. Subban and Yegor Sharangovich scored in a 64-second span in the third period with the teams playing 4-on-4 hockey.
It forced Quinn to take a timeout, and got the Rangers refocused.
After killing off a power play, Buchnevich and Chris Kreider added late empty-net goals to seal the win.
The victory extended the Rangers' point streak to a season-high five games (4-0-1) and pulled them within four points of idle Boston in the race for the last playoff berth in the East. The Bruins have 14 left.
Shesterkin finished with 30 saves. Aaron Dell had 24 saves for the Devils, who have lost five straight and are 1-7-2 in their last 10.
Buchnevich ignited and capped the three-goal opening period. He finished off an odd-man rush with Mika Zibanejad, who had three assists, with a shot into an open net at 7:26. The next two goals came on the power play after Damon Severson was called for holding and New Jersey was called for too many men on the penalty kill. Strome scored from a bad angle on the 5-on-3 segment, and Buchnevich got his second, roofing a shot from between the circles.
Panarin, who now has 301 career assists, made it 4-0 early in the second period on a shot off Dell's glove.
Then the Devils' comeback came up just short.
The teams will end the four-game series in New Jersey on Sunday and meet for the final time in the regular season. New York has won the last five and leads the series 5-2.
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