Mika Zibanejad fuels surging New York Rangers past New Jersey Devils

Apr 18, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) scores a goal past New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood (29) during the first period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Mika Zibanejad became the latest Rangers player to score on his birthday, as his power-play goal with three minutes remaining lifted New York to a 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday in Newark, N.J.

Zibanejad, who turned 28 on Sunday, accepted a pass at the edge of the faceoff circle from Ryan Strome and fired a shot over the right shoulder of Mackenzie Blackwood and off the top post.

Pavel Buchnevich collected a hat trick on his 26th birthday in New York’s 6-3 win over New Jersey on Saturday afternoon.

Chris Kreider, Vitali Kravtsov and rookie Alexis Lafreniere staked the Rangers to a 3-0 lead before the Devils mounted a comeback. The goal was the first of Kravtsov’s career.

Strome was credited with an empty-net goal after Devils defenseman P.K. Subban hooked him on a breakaway with 24.3 seconds left.

New York completed a four-game sweep of the Devils and won for the eighth time in 11 games (8-1-2) to remain four points behind the Boston Bruins in the race for the final playoff spot in the East Division.

Alexandar Georgiev overcame an injury scare in the first period to make 25 saves. Igor Shesterkin stopped two shots as Georgiev tended to an apparent leg ailment.

Mikhail Maltsev, Marian Studenic and Nico Hischier scored for the Devils, who have dropped six in a row and 10 of 11 (1-8-2). Studenic’s goal was also his first in the NHL.

The Rangers began mounting their multi-goal lead when Kreider scored on the power play 6:31 into the first period. Kravtsov scored his milestone goal with 5:57 left in the period and Lafreniere backhanded a shot past Blackwood at 5:17 into the second.

New Jersey began its comeback with 1:05 left in the second after Maltsev dove for a rebound of a shot by Yegor Sharangovich and directed the puck past the outstretched Georgiev.

Maltsev helped create Studenic’s first goal by firing a pass through the neutral zone to a streaking Studenic, who beat Georgiev under his stick hand at the 1:53 mark.

Hischier tied the score at 5:30 after he bolted into the slot, accepted a feed from Nicholas Merkley and fired a shot over Georgiev’s glove.

–Field Level Media