Zibanejad has hat trick as Rangers beat Lightning 4-0

Sports News

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) is congratulated by teammates Chris Kreider (20) and Kaapo Kakko (24) after scoring his third goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning, during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Jan 2, 2022, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

NEW YORK (AP) — Mika Zibanejad had his eighth career hat trick, Igor Shesterkin stopped 38 shots for his second shutout of the season and the New York Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 Sunday.

Ryan Strome also scored, Chris Kreider had three assists and Adam Fox added two to help New York win for the third time in five games (3-1-1). The Rangers beat the Lightning for the second time in three days after a 4-2 shootout victory at Tampa, Florida, on Friday night.

In this one, New York was without star forward Artemi Panarin, who was placed in COVID-19 protocols before the game.

Shesterkin had 18 saves in the first period, 11 in the second and nine in the third for his fourth career shutout. He improved to 15-4-2 with a 2.09 goals-against average this season.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, playing for the first time in 12 days after coming off COVID-19 protocols earlier in the day, had 17 saves as the Lightning lost their third straight (0-2-1) after winning nine of 10.

Zibanejad, who had the only goal of the shootout Friday, completed his hat trick late in the second period to put the Rangers up 4-0. He deflected Tampa Bay’s outlet pass in its defensive zone and charged toward the net. The puck came to Kreider, who spun way to the left and sent a pass that Zibanejad deflected past Vasilevskiy with 3:07 remaining for his 11th of the season.

It was Zibanejad’s his first hat trick since April 25 against Buffalo. He scored three goals three times last season, including a pair of three-goal, three-assist games.

The Lightning challenged for high-sticking on the play, but the goal stood after a review.

The Rangers came in eighth in the NHL on the power play at 23.9% and went 2 for 3 against the Lightning.

With Tampa Bay’s Mikhail Sergachev off for hooking, Zibanejad got the Rangers on the scoreboard at 7:44 of the first as he got a pass from Fox and fired a rising shot from the top of the left circle past Vasilevskiy into the top left corner.

Nearly five minutes later, the Rangers were on a 4-on-3 power play when Zibanejad got his second of the night. He received a pass from Fox, skated back to his left and sent a pass toward Kaapo Kakko on the right side but the puck was deflected by Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh past Vasilevskiy with 7:23 left.

Strome made it 3-0 when he took a pass from Barclay Goodrow and fired a shot from between the circles over Vasilevskiy’s glove for his seventh with 5:07 remaining in the opening period.

Shesterkin had six of his 18 saves of the first in the final minute, including a reaching glove stop on a slap shot by Sergachev in which the goalie ended up sprawled faced down in front of the goal with 16 seconds left, drawing chants of “I-gor! I-gor!” from the home crowd.

STATUS

Sergachev went to the Lightning locker room just past midway through the second period with an apparent lower back/side injury. He was being tended to during a stoppage in play, but then left the bench. He missed the rest of the period but returned for the third.

LINEUPS

Lightning D Erik Cernak was activated off IR and rejoined the lineup after missing 10 games with a lower-body injury. … C Anthony Cirelli also came off COVID-19 protocols before the game. RW Taylor Raddysh also came off protocols and was assigned to the taxi squad. … D Zach Bogosian missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.

In addition to Panarin, the Rangers were without D Patrik Nemeth due to an undisclosed illness. Rookie Zac Jones entered the lineup and made his season debut. … G Alexandar Georgiev, removed from COVID-19 protocols one day earlier, was Shesterkin’s backup. C Kevin Rooney, D Ryan Lindgren and D Jarred Tinordi remained in COVID-19 protocols.

UP NEXT

Lightning: At Columbus on Tuesday night to wrap a two-game trip.

Rangers: Host Edmonton on Monday night before a five-game trip.

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Follow Vin Cherwoo at http://www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP

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