Artemi Panarin scored twice and goaltender Igor Shesterkin stopped all 34 shots he faced as the New York Rangers cruised to a dominant 6-0 rout of the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
The Rangers (40-19-10, 90 points) won their third straight and improved to 5-0-1 in their past six games following a 2-5-1 slump that ran from Feb. 18 to March 4. The big nights by Panarin, Shesterkin and Mika Zibanejad (one goal, two assists) helped New York pull within five points of the second-place New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference.
New York scored six goals for the 11th time as Panarin notched his third multi-goal game of the season and Zibanejad registered his seventh game with at least three points this season.
Vladimir Tarasenko, Chris Kreider and Jacob Trouba also scored goals for New York. Patrick Kane and K’Andre Miller contributed two assists apiece.
Shesterkin was making his 150th career appearance and highlighted his fifth straight win by making a diving pad save on Drew O’Connor with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the second shortly after the Rangers took the six-goal lead. It was Shesterkin’s second shutout of the season and 10th of his career.
Pittsburgh (34-24-10, 78 points) dropped its third straight and has allowed 16 goals since its 3-2 overtime home win over the Rangers last Sunday.
Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry allowed four goals on 17 shots and was pulled for the fourth time in his past 10 starts. Backup Casey DeSmith made five saves.
Zibanejad opened the scoring 5:10 in when he swept a backhander by Jarry from the middle of the right circle after Trouba’s blocked shot caromed to him. Panarin made it 2-0 during a power play with 11 seconds remaining in the first period when he moved a few steps in and blasted a wrist shot from the left circle over Jarry.
The Rangers turned the game into a blowout by scoring three times in a span of 4:45 in the second.
Tarasenko finished off a three-on-one with Zibanejad and Miller by putting a one-timer over Jarry’s left arm 3:54 into the second. Nearly three minutes later Kane made a backhanded pass to Kreider, who shoveled the puck in from the left side of the crease to chase Jarry.
Trouba made it 5-0 with a sharp angle shot from near the red line over DeSmith’s shoulder and Panarin scored from below the right circle into a wide-open net after getting a slick cross-ice pass from Kane with 3:22 remaining in the second.