Artemi Panarin hat trick lifts Rangers past Bruins 5-2 in night of milestones

NHL: New York Rangers at Boston Bruins
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

It was a night of several milestones and one massive victory for the New York Rangers on Thursday, when they defeated the Boston Bruins 5-2 at TD Garden.

The win lifted the Rangers within a point of the Bruins for first overall in the NHL. New York has 12 games remaining in the regular season and a game in hand on Boston. It also completed a season-series sweep for the Rangers against the Bruins.

“Obviously, they were No. 1 in the League coming into this game, and to come in here and get two points is massive,” defenseman Braden Schneider said.

Artemi Panarin had a hat trick to surpass the 40-goal plateau for the first time in his distinguished NHL career. Adam Fox scored his career-best 13th goal this season. And Jonathan Quick made 24 saves for his 391st win, tying him with Ryan Miller for most by an United States-born goalie and 15th place-all time in the NHL.

“I’ve been fortunate to play with a lot of great players. Grateful for the work they put in to allow me to achieve that,” Quick said.

The impressive victory came in Peter Laviolette’s 1,500th game coached in the NHL. Only eight other coaches have reached that mark.

Jeremy Swayman made 26 saves for the Bruins, whose three-game winning streak came to an end.

Related: Brennan Othmann ‘grateful’ to remain with Rangers after trade deadline

New York Rangers 5 – Boston Bruins 2

NHL: New York Rangers at Boston Bruins
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Panarin scored two goals in the second period, when the Rangers erased a 1-0 deficit and took a 2-1 lead into the intermission. Each goal featured fortuitous bounces after heavy Rangers pressure forced the Bruins to scramble deep in their own end.

The Rangers tied the game at 7:58 of the second. Panarin netted his 39th goal after the puck pinballed off a pair Bruins players in front and came to him 10-feet out. A quick Panarin shot beat Swayman between the pads to even the score. The goal came after Schneider led a breakout up ice and pushed the puck deep into the offensive zone.

Panarin’s 40th goal came in the final minute of the period after a solid forecheck by Alex Wennberg caused the Bruins to rush a pass into traffic from behind their own net. Panarin collected the puck on left wing and tried to send a cross-crease pass to Wennberg at the right post, but the puck deflected off two Boston players, including a sliding Jake DeBrusk, and over the goal line at 19:25 to give New York a 2-1 lead.

Ten seconds later, Panarin nearly completed the natural hat trick, but his tracer from left wing hit the post.

It was a well-earned lead for the Blueshirts, who held the Bruins to only six shots in the middle 20 minutes.

Boston scored the first goal after surviving a New York power play less than a minute into the game. The Rangers managed five shots on goal with Brandon Carlo in the penalty box but couldn’t get one past Swayman. Then the Bruins broke through at 8:04 of the first on DeBrusk’s 18th goal of the season.

Despite the goal, Quick was terrific in the first period, stopping 13 of 14 shots. In fact, he stoned Trent Frederic twice from point-blank range right before the DeBrusk goal. Late in the period, Quick made a lightning-fast right-pad save on Brad Marchand , with the Bruins captain seeking his 400th NHL goal.

“‘Quickie’ was on point tonight. He was excellent in that first period,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said.

After the Rangers took the lead, the Bruins managed to briefly tie things up early in the third period. Hulking forward Justin Brazeau pushed the puck over the goal line for his fourth goal at 3:17 despite K’Andre Miller hanging all over him.

But 40 seconds later, Fox ripped a right-wing shot past Swayman on the short side to put the Rangers back on top, 3-2.

Quick made the lead hold up and Mika Zibanejad iced the important victory with an empty-net goal at 17:57.

Panarin put an exclamation point on the proceedings with an empty-net goal at 19:08 to complete his seventh NHL hat trick with his 41st goal of the season. He finished with four points, also assisting on Zibanejad’s goal.

The Rangers return home to face another elite opponent, the Florida Panthers, at The Garden on Saturday.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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