Zibanejad, Panarin each has four points, Rangers defeat Ducks
NEW YORK — Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin each had four points, and the New York Rangers defeated the Anaheim Ducks 6-4 at Madison Square Garden on Monday.
Zibanejad, who had two goals and two assists, has a team-high four goals. Panarin, who had a goal and three assists, leads New York with 10 points (two goals, eight assists), the most all time by a Rangers player through the first four games in a season.
Adam Fox had three assists, and Vincent Trocheck had a goal and an assist for New York (3-1-0), which was 3-for-4 on the power play. Igor Shesterkin made 18 saves.
“I think we’ve seen the last several years that special teams in playoffs and late in the season is one of the biggest factors in teams that win a Stanley Cup, teams that are winning,” Trocheck said. “If we can continue the success on the power play, fine-tune our penalty kill and fine-tune our defensive play, I think we’re in the right spot.”
Trevor Zegras scored, and Pavol Regenda and Troy Terry each had two assists for Anaheim (1-2-0), which was coming off a 7-1 loss at the New York Islanders on Saturday and has allowed 17 goals in its first three games.
John Gibson allowed five goals on 34 shots before being pulled after the second period. Anthony Stolarz made eight saves in relief.
Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said Gibson was “dinged” by a slap shot from Zibanejad in the second period, which played a role in him not returning for the third period trailing 5-2.
“He had something going on there with his body and just with the score, where it was at, didn’t think it was a real intelligent move to throw him back in there,” Eakins said.
New York took a 2-0 lead in the first period on power-play goals. Trocheck scored backdoor off a pass from Zibanejad at 7:34, and Zibanejad beat Ducks forward Max Jones to the bottom of the right face-off circle and scored off a feed from Trocheck at 13:10.
“We win a lot of pucks back and that’s usually when things open up on the power play,” Zibanejad said. “And I think we have a pretty good group, two groups, of being able to make those plays when they’re there.”
Frank Vatrano made it 2-1 at 15:48, and Zegras tied it 2-2 at 1:34 of the second.
“Their one power-play goal in the first was a gift, absolute missed responsibility, and in the second period we gave them two gifts, I mean absolute gifts,” Eakins said. “So, we give them three easy ones and lose by two. That’s what’s disappointing because there was improvement in our game in a number of areas and then it all gets blown apart by missed responsibilities.”
Kaapo Kakko scored at 9:54, deflecting Zibanejad’s shot off Gibson’s pad and Ducks defenseman John Klingberg‘s skate to make it 3-2.
Alexis Lafreniere scored his first of the season at 17:39 with a one-timer from the slot off a pass from Filip Chytil that went between Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk‘s legs for the 4-2 lead.
Panarin scored with a wrist shot from between the top of the circles to make it 5-2 at 19:26. It came seconds after the Rangers intercepted Klingberg’s stretch pass out of the defensive zone.
“You look at the teams that are champions in this league, whether it’s Colorado, Tampa, St. Louis, they never won because they were skilled, they won because they work,” Eakins said. “They work and they’re relentless with it. It doesn’t matter if they have the puck or they don’t have the puck, they work. That’s part of our development process here and our growing process is that when we don’t have the puck we have to work harder.”
Max Comtois scored on a one-timer from the right circle at 5:33 of the third to make it 5-3, but Shesterkin made back-to-back saves on Zegras with his left pad and Adam Henrique off the rebound with his glove to preserve the two-goal lead with 11 minutes remaining.
Zibanejad extended New York’s lead to 6-3 with his second power-play goal on a one-timer from the left circle off a pass from Panarin at 11:42.
Derek Grant scored at 16:14 for the 6-4 final.
“We have a few things we need to work on, but I like the way we’re coming together as a team,” Trocheck said. “I like the way we’re gaining chemistry more and more each game. Those kinds of things are extremely important.”
NOTES: The Rangers gave a video tribute to Ducks center Ryan Strome during the first television timeout. Strome played 263 games with New York and had 195 points (71 goals, 124 assists) from 2018-22, before signing a five-year contract with Anaheim as a free agent July 13. He had one shot on goal and one blocked shot in 19:05 of ice time. … Rangers forward Sammy Blais had three shots on goal, six shot attempts and three hits in 13:34 in his first NHL game since Nov. 14, 2021, when he suffered a season-ending knee injury. He missed the first three games of this season with an upper-body injury. … Vatrano played 22 games and had 13 points (eight goals, five assists) last season for New York after being acquired from the Florida Panthers on March 16. He signed a three-year contract with the Ducks on July 13.