Zibanejads hat trick helps Rangers top Sabres, gain in East


NEW YORK — Mika Zibanejad scored his League-leading third hat trick of the season for the New York Rangers in a 6-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

Zibanejad also recorded a hat trick in wins against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 17 and 25. The Rangers center leads the NHL with 16 goals in 22 games since March 17.

Kaapo Kakko scored two goals, and Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves for the Rangers (25-18-6), who have won two straight. Adam Fox had three assists to give him 41 assists and 46 points this season, each of which leads the League among defensemen.

Sam Reinhart scored a goal and had an assist, and Dustin Tokarski made 23 saves for the Sabres (13-29-7). 

Zibanejad scored the first of three goals by New York in the first period with a shot off the rush from above the right hash marks to make it 1-0 at 4:49.

Jeff Skinner scored on a high backhand from the slot to tie it 1-1 at 6:16.

Kakko made it 2-1 when he scored with a one-timer from the right circle off a diagonal pass by Fox from the top of the left circle at 12:02.

Zibanejad scored a power-play goal on a net-front deflection of Artemi Panarin‘s pass at 17:10 to make it 3-1.

He then completed the hat trick at 2:05 of the second period, giving the Rangers a 4-1 lead with a shot through Tokarski’s legs after putting the puck between his own legs in the neutral zone to receive Pavel Buchnevich‘s pass.

Victor Olofsson made it 4-2 with a one-timer on the power play at 14:47 of the second.

Kakko scored the Rangers second power-play goal to make it 5-2 at 7:06 of the third period. Zac Jones had an assist for his first NHL point.

Reinhart scored with a one-timer from the left circle at 10:34 to cut it to 5-3.

Kevin Rooney scored a shorthanded empty-net goal at 19:05 for the 6-3 final.

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