NHL-best New York Rangers defeat Tampa Bay Lightning


- Artemi Panarin scored three goals, Igor Shesterkin made 34 saves on his 28th birthday, and the NHL-leading New York Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 on Saturday night. On the back end of consecutive games in Florida, New York bounced back from a 4-3 loss to the Panthers on Friday night, fueled by Panarin's hat trick. "Honestly, after this game, I feel great. I don't know what can be better [than to] finish the [calendar] year like that," Panarin said. "We won the game, which is important. Thanks [to my] partners." Vincent Trocheck had a goal and three assists, as well, and Chris Kreider scored for New York. Alexis Lafrenière had two assists, and Mika Zibanejad had an assist for a career-high 10-game point streak. The Rangers, with plenty of New York fans in the stands for the second straight night in the Sunshine State, became the first team this season to reach 50 points. The last time that happened in franchise history, was the 1993-94 season, when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup. With the win, New York improved to 6-0 in the second of back-to-back games this season, and it did so with Shesterkin anchoring the effort. "I thought he was the best player on the ice, and that's saying a lot because [Panarin] had a heck of a game," New York coach Peter Laviolette said. "But Igor was amazing with some of the saves that he made. He seemed like he was dialed in. He saw pucks. He was really good."