Mika Zibanejad posted the second hat trick of his NHL career Thursday night, when he scored the game-winning goal with 4:36 left in the third period to lift the New York Rangers to a 4-3 win over the host New Jersey Devils.
The Rangers have won four of five. The Devils have lost four of five.
The Rangers trailed 2-0 before Zibanejad redirected a shot by Kevin Hayes with 1.8 seconds left in the first period. Zibanejad then tied the game by scoring on the power play with 4:24 left in the second, when he beat Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid from the faceoff circle.
The two teams traded goals in 53 seconds early in the third beginning when Zibanejad collected the second assist as Chris Kreider scored to give the Rangers their first lead. Then Egor Yakovlev answered for the Devils.
Zibanejad then finished off the hat trick by taking a backhanded pass from Mats Zuccarello and shuffling the puck before depositing a backhanded shot over Kinkaid’s pads.
The hat trick was Zibanejad’s first since on Feb. 27, 2016, against the Calgary Flames. It was also the first hat trick by a Rangers player against the Devils in New Jersey since Mark Messier’s iconic natural third period hat trick in Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference finals.
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves for the Rangers, including several in a frantic final few minutes.
Lundqvist stopped Kevin Rooney at point-blank range multiple times with about three minutes to go and then smothered putback attempts by Brian Boyle and Kyle Palmieri with fewer than 30 seconds left.
Nico Hischier and Marcus Johansson scored in the first period for the Devils.
Hischier scored off a turnover deep in the Rangers zone 5:10 after faceoff, while Johansson put New Jersey ahead 2-0 in unusual fashion with 3:42 left. Boyle’s shot bounced off the left post and out of the crease, but Johansson dove and poked the puck past sprawling Rangers defenseman Neal Pionk and into the open right corner of the net.
Kinkaid made 21 saves.